British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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420                              st. martin's day.                     [Nov. n.
the Hundred of Knightlow, called Wroth money or Warth money or Swarff penny, probably the same with Ward penny. This rent must be paid every Martinmas Day, in the morn­ing, at Knightlow Cross, before the sun riseth: the party paying it must go thrice about the cross, and say " The Wrath money," and then lay it in the hole of the said cross before good witness, for if it be not duly performed the forfeiture is thirty shillings and a white bull.
In the North Eiding of Yorkshire it is customary for a party of singers, mostly consisting of women, to begin at the feast of St. Martin a kind of peregrination round the neigh­bouring villages, carrying with them a small waxen image of our Saviour adorned with box and other evergreens, and singing at the same time a hymn which, though rustic and uncouth, is nevertheless replete with the sacred story of the Nativity. The custom is yearly continued till Christmas Eve, when the feasting, or as they usually call it, " good living," commences; every rustic dame produces a cheese preserved for the sacred festival, upon which, before any part of it is tasted, according to an old custom, she with a sharp knife makes rude incisions to represent the Cross. With this, and furmity made of barley and meal, the cottage affords un­interrupted hospitality.—Gent. Mag. 1811, vol. lxxxi. pt. i. p. 423.
At St. Peter's, Athlone, every family of a village, says Mason, in his Stat. Ace. of Ireland (1819, vol. iii. p. 75), kills an animal of some kind or other: those who are rich kill a cow or a sheep, others a goose or a turkey; while those who are poor and cannot procure an animal of greater value, kill a hen or a cock, and sprinkle the threshold with the blood, and do the same in the four corners of the house, and this ceremonious performance is done to exclude every kind of evil spirit from the dwelling where this sacrifice is made, till the return of the same day in the following year.
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