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. 25.]                          CHRISTMAS DAY.                                       487
Saviour's nativity. This act of devotion was called Pulgen, or the crowning of the cock. It was a general belief among the superstitious that instantly—
" At his warning, Whether in sea, or fire, in earth, or air, Th' extravagant, and erring spirit, hies To his confine—"
During Christmas time, the cock was supposed to exert Ids power throughout the night, from which no doubt origi­nated the Welsh word " Pulgen " as applied to this custom.— Bingley's Tour Bound North Wales, 1800, vol. ii. p. 226.
At Tenby it was customary at 4 o'clock on Christmas morning for the young men of the town to escort the rector with lighted torches from his residence to church.—Mason's Tales and Traditions of Tenby, 1858, p. 4.
Sometimes also before or after Christmas Day the fisher­men of Tenby dressed up one of their number whom they called the " Lord Mayor of Pennyless Cone," with a covering of evergreens and a mask over his face; they would then carry him about, seated on a chair, with flags flying, and a couple of violins playing before him. Before every house the " Lord Mayor" would address the occupants, wishing them a merry Christmas and a happy new year. If his good wishes were responded to with money his followers gave three cheers, the masquer would himself return thanks, and the crowd again cheered.—Ibid, p, 5.
In some parts of Scotland, he who first opens the door on Yule Day expects to prosper more than any other member of the family during the future year because, as the vulgar express it, " He lets in yule." On opening the door, it is customary with some to place in the doorway a table or chair covered with a clean cloth ; and, according to their own language, to " set on it bread and cheese to yule." Early in the morning, as soon as any one of the family gets out of bed, a new besom is set behind the outer door, the design being to " let in yule." These superstitions, in which yule
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