British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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500                              HOLY INNOCENTS' DAY.                  [DEC 28
decimae, the same. Timbs thinks it referable to the old north-country word disen, i.e., to dress out in holiday finery, especially at this festive season. — Something for Everybody, fl861, p. 154).
From time immemorial a muffled peal has been rung on this festival at Leigh-upon-Mendip. At Wells, also, on this day, the bells of the cathedral ring out a muffled peal in commemoration of the martyrdom of the Innocents.—Kalendar of the Church of England, 1866, p. 194.
At Norton, near Evesham, it is customary, says a corre­spondent of N. & Q. (1st S. vol. viii. p. 617), to ring first a muffled peal for the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, and then an unmuffled peal of joy for the deliverance of the Infant Christ.
Holy Innocents' Day is with the Irish " the cross day of the year," which they call in their own tongue " La crosta na bliana," or sometimes " Diar daoin darg," the latter phrase signifying " blood Thursday,'' On this day the Irish house­wife will not warp thread, or permit it to be warped; and the Irish say that anything begun on this day must have an unlucky ending. The following legend regarding the day is current in the county of Clare :—
Between the parishes of Quin and Tulla in this county is a lake called Turlough. In the lake is a little island, and among a heap of loose stones in the middle of the island rises a white thorn-bush, which is called " Scagh an Earla " (the earl's bush). A suit of clothes made for a child on the " Cross day," or " Diar daoin darg," was put on the child— the child died. The clothes were put on a second and on a third child—they also died. The parent of the children at length put out the clothes on the " Scagh an Earla," and when the waters fell which for a time covered the bush, the clothes were found to be full of dead eels. Such is the story; find other stories like it are freely told of the consequences
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