Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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Pray, good mistress, send to me
One for Peter, one for Paul,
One for Him who made us all ;
Apple, pear, plum, or cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry ;
A bouncing buck and a velvet chair,
Clement comes but once a year ;
Off with the pot and on with the pan,
A good red apple and I'll be gone." 2
In Worcestershire on St. Clement's Day the boys chanted J similar rhymes, and at the close of their collection they would 2 roast the apples received and throw them into ale or cider.3 In 1 the north of England men used to go about begging drink, and at I Ripon Minster the choristers went round the church offering I everyone a rosy apple with a sprig of box on it.4 The Cam- | bridge bakers held their annual supper on this day,5 at Tenby the fishermen were given a supper,6 while the blacksmiths' apprentices at Woolwich had a remarkable ceremony, akin perhaps to the Boy Bishop customs. One of their number was chosen to play the part of " Old Clem," was attired in a great coat, and wore a mask, a long white beard, and an oakum wig. Seated in a large wooden chair, and surrounded by attendants bearing banners, torches, and weapons, he was borne about the town on the shoulders of six men, visiting numerous public-houses and the blacksmiths and officers of the dockyard. Before him he had a wooden anvil, and in his hands a pair of tongs and a wooden hammer, the insignia of the blacksmith's trade.7
St. Catherine's Day.
November 25 is St. Catherine's Day, and at Woolwich Arsenal a similar ceremony was then performed : a man was dressed in female attire, with a large wheel by his side to represent the saint, and was taken round the town 8 in a wooden chair. At Chatham there was a torchlight procession on St. Catherine's Day, and a woman in white muslin with a gilt crown was carried about in a chair. She was said to represent not the saint, but Queen Catherine.9
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