British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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448                                 CHRISTMAS EVE.                      [Dec. 24.
In the neighbourhood of the New Forest the following lines are sung on the wassailing of the trees:
" Apples and pears with right good corn, Come in plenty to every one ; Eat and drink good cake and hot ale, Give earth to drink and she'll not fail."
Christmas in the Olden Time, London, 1839.
In the Gent Mag. (vol. xc. pt. i. p. 33) is the following account of a custom that formerly existed at Tretyre on Christmas Eve. The writer says:—They make a cake, poke a stick through it, fasten it upon the horn of an ox,, and say certain words, begging a good crop of corn for the master. The men and boys attending the oxen, range them­selves around. If the ox throws the cake behind, it belongs to the men, if before, to the boys. They take with them a wooden bottle of cyder and drink it, repeating the charm before mentioned.
Hasted (History of Kent, vol. iii. p. 380) says there was a singular custom used of long time by the fishermen of Folkestone. They chose eight of their largest and best whitings out of every boat when they came home from the fishery and sold them apart from the rest, and out of the money arising from them they made a feast every Christmas Eve which they called a " Kumbald." The master of each boat provided this feast for his own company. These whitings, which are of a very large size, and are sold all round the country as far as Canterbury, are called Eumbald whitings. This custom (which is now left off, though many of the inhabitants still meet jovially on Christmas Eve, and call it Rumbald Night) might have been anciently instituted in honour of St. Rumbald, and at first designed as an offering to him for his protection during the fishery.*
* Cole, in his History and Antiquities of Filey (1828, p. 143), gives the following account of a custom that existed in his time in connection
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