British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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dec. 24.]                         christmas eve.                                   4*19
Isle of Man.
Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (1859, p. 125), says that on Christmas Eve every one leaves off work, and rambles about till the bells begin to ring at midnight. Lord Teignmouth (Sketches of the Coast of Scotland and the Isle of Man, vol. ii. p. 264) states that they then all flock to the churches, bearing the largest candle they can procure. The churches are decorated with holly, and the service, in com­memoration of the birth of our Saviour is called Oiel Verry.— See Train's History of the Isle of Man, 1845, vol. ii. p. 127.
Norfolk.
In some parts of Norfolk libations of spiced ale used to be sprinkled on orchards and meadows.—Book of -Days, vol. ii. p. 736.
Northamptonshire.
On Christmas Eve, 1815, says Cole (History of Ecton, 1825), the musicians of Ecton, accompanied by the vocalists of the church, revived the custom of going round the village at midnight and singing a carol at the principal houses.
Nottinghamshire.
At Nottingham, on Christmas Eve, as well as in many other of the villages, it is customary to toast apples on a string until they drop into a bowl of hot spiced ale, which is placed to receive them ; this, from the softness of the beverage is called " lamb's-wool,"
with the herring fishery at that place. He says, during the time the boats are on the herring fishery the junior part of the inhabitants seize all the unemployed waggons and carts they can find and drag them down the streets to the cliff tops ; then leaving them to be owned and taken away by their respective proprietors on the following morn­ing : this is carried into effect about the third Saturday night after the boats have sailed from Filey, under a superstitious notion that it drives the herrings into the nets. Previously to the fishermen setting out upon their expedition they send a piece of sea-beef on shore from each boat to such of their friends at the public houses as they wish " weel beea;" this occasions " a bit of a supper," at which those who are going away and those who stay enjoy good cheer, heightened by mutual
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