British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

480                                       CHRISTMAS DAY.                           [DeC. 25.
The following lines are sung at the Christmas mummings in this county:
" Here comes I, liddle man Jan, With my zword in my han! If you don't all do,
As you be told by I, I'll zend you all to York, Vor to make apple-pie."
Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 466.
In Shaw's History of Staffordshire (1798-1801) is men­tioned a custom formerly prevalent in the parish of Great Barr, for the rector on every Christmas Day to give to each person, great and small, of his parish that came to his house, so much bread, beef, mustard, and vinegar as they could eat. Latterly, however, money was given instead.
Plot, in his Natural History of Staffordshire (1686, p. 434), gives the following account of a jocular custom celebrated in olden times at Bromley Abbots. He says:—Within memory, at Abbots or Fagets Bromley, they had a sort of sport which they celebrated at Christmas (on New Year and Twelfth Day) called the Hobby-horse Dance from a person who carried the image of a horse between his legs, made of thin boards, and in his hands a bow and arrow which, passing through a hole in the bow and stopping upon a shoulder it had in it, he made a snapping noise as he drew it to and fro, keeping time with the musick; with this man danced six others, carrying on their shoulders as many reindeer heads, three of them painted white, with three red, with the arms of the chief families (viz., of Paget, Bagot, and Wells), to whom the revenues of the town chiefly belonged, depicted on the palms of them, with which they danced the hays and other country dances. To this hobby-horse dance there also belonged a pot, which was kept by turns by four or five of the chief of the town, whom they called reeves, who provided cake and ale to put into this pot; all people who had any kind­ness for the good intent of the institution of the sport, giving pence a piece for themselves and their families, and so foreigners too that came to see it, with which money (the
Previous Contents Next