« PreviousContinue »
among the Romans, but generally by the
dice. Horace alludes to this Rex convivii, THE NEW YEAR.
or Rex bibendi, on different occasions. The preceding remarks will introduce us to
" Quem Venus arbitrum a superstition practised in the south of Scot
Dicet bibendi ?"
Carm. lib. ii. 7. land, on the morning of the New Year, “ To whom shall beauty's queen assign (January 1). The instant the clock has To reign the monarch of our wine ?"'° Francis. struck the midnight hour, one of a family goes to the well as quickly as possible, and
The chief magistrates were not exempted carefully skims it: this they call getting from yielding obedience, if the lots gave an“ the scum or ream (cream) of the well.”
other pre-eminence; whence Agesilaus, king
of Lacedæmon, being present at an entertain“ Twall struck-twa neebour hizzies raise
ment, was not declared Rex till the lots had An' liltin, gaed a sad gate: The flower o' the well to our house gaes,
fallen upon him. An' I'll the boniest lad get."
The Monday following the twelfth day is This flower o' the well signifies the first from its being about the period at which the
called Plough Monday, in Great Britain, pailful of water, and the girl who is so fortu. nate as to obtain
that prize, is supposed to ground is begun to be ploughed up. have more than a double chance of gaining “ Plough Monday next, after that the twelfth tide the most accomplished young man in the is past, parish. As th go to the well ney chant Bids out with the plough, the worst husband is
Tusser. over the two last of the above lines.
This is an old superstition, and is proba. In celebration of this agricultural combly derived from the worship of wells by the mencement, in the north of England, the Picts. It was known to the Romans : the Fool Plough goes about a pageant, conact of skimming water with the hand, being sisting of a number of sword dancers, dragone of the rites necessary for successful ging a plough, with music, and one, someaugury.
times two, fantastically clothed : the Fool Many persons make a point of wearing being covered with skins, and wearing a new clothes on New Year's Day, and esteem hairy cap, with the tail of some animal hangany omission of this kind extremely unlucky. ing from his back.—(Forster, p. 13). The salutations of this day are of remote an St. Agnes's Day (January 21st), is fruittiquity, as well as the custom of “ New ful in love superstitions. The following are Year's Gifts,"* as we shall find hereafter. the most common. On St. Agnes's night,
The custom of eating twelfth cake, and es. take a row of pins, and pull out every one, pecially of drawing for king and queen, on one after another, saying a paternoster, and the Epiphany, or twelfth day, or twelfth tide, sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will or old Christmas day (January 6), as it is dream of him or her you shall marry. Old variously termed, is antique. In the ancient Ben, in one of his Masques, refers to this Calendar of the Romish Church, is an obser- superstition. vation on the fifth day of January, the vigil of the Epiphany, “ Kings created or elected
“And on sweet Agnes' night
Please you with the promised sight, by beans;" and the sixth is called “ The
Some of husbands, some of lovers, Festival of Kings," with the additional re
Which an empty dream discovers." mark, “ that the ceremony of electing kings was continued with feasting for many days."
Another divinatory method employed by In the cities and academies of Germany, the love-sick maidens, is to sleep in a county in students and citizens choose one of their which they do not usually reside, where they number for king, providing a most magnifi- knit the left leg garter round the right leg cent banquet on the occasion. In France, stocking, leaving the other garter and stockduring the ancient regime, one of the cour. ing untouched ; they then repeat the follow. tiers was chosen a king, and the nobles at- ing lines, knitting a knot at each comma, tended at an entertainment at which he pre
“ This knot I koit, sided; and with the French, Le Roi de la To know the thing I know not yet, Fève, still signifies a twelfth-night king.
That I may see, The above ceremonies are probably the re
The man that shall my husband le,
How he gres and shat he wears, mains of those for choosing amongst the Greeks, And what he does all the days." the συμποσίαρχος βασιλευς, &c., and amongst the Romans, the Rex modimperator, &c. the
The next dream, it is believed, will reveal king-whose business it was, at feasts, to de.
to the lady's gaze her future spouse, bearing termine the laws of good fellowship, and to a badge of his occupation. A lady acknowobserve whether every one drank his propor. ledged to Aubrey, (ASS.) that she had praction, whence he was also called op901mos--thetised this incantation, and was favoured with eye. He was commonly appointed by lots, a vision about two or three years afterwards. occasionally perhaps by beans, as was usual Being one Sunday at church, up popped a
young Oxonian into the pulpit'; she instantly * Ovid fast. lib. i. 63–74.
cried out to her sister, that is the very face
of the man I saw in my dream !” Of course But if Candlemas Day be clouds and rain, he became her husband.
Wiuter is gone and will not come again." The tying of amatory knots, to unite the
Candlemas Day is so called, from having beloved person's affections with their own, been formerly celebrated with many candles, was a common expedient amongst the Ro- which, being sprinkled with holy water, and
blessed, were supposed to possess the power “ Necte tribus nodis ternos, Amarylli colores :*
of driving away evil spirits. Necte, Amarylli, modo; et Veneris, dic. vincula
Virg, Eclog. viii, 77.
" Whose candelle burneth cleere and bright, a
wonderous force and might “ Knit with three knots the fillets, knit them Doth in these cavdelis lie, which, if at any time straight,
they light, And say, these knots to love I consecrate."
They sure believe that neither storme nor tempest Dryden. dare abide,
Nor thunder in the skie be beard, nor any divel There is an ancient admonition, to note spide, down whether the sun shine on St. Vincent's
Nor fearfull sprites ibat walk by night, nor hurt by
frost and baile."* Day (January 22d). “ Vincenti festo si sol radiet memor esto."
These consecrated candles were even viewed “ Remember on St. Vincent's day,
as useful to the dying. To the question, If that the sun bis beams display."
“ Wherefore serveth holy candles ?" we find
this reply: “ To light up in thunder, and to And Dr. Forster presumes that it may have blesse men when they lye a dying.”— arisen from an idea that the sun would not
Candlemas was the season at which the shine inauspiciously “on that day on which Februa, a feast of purification and atonethe martyrdom of the saint was so inhumanly ment, was formerly held at Rome. That finished by burning,” (p. 26). It is proba- which was purified by the sacrifice was bly, however, connected with the following called februatum, and the month in which old proverb of the vintager.
the purification took place, Februarius. The “A la fête de Saint Vincent
evident relation between the two festivals of Le vin monte dans le sarment;
purification, is one amongst the most strikEt en va bien autrement
ing instances of the connexion between the Si il gèle, il en descend."
original Ethnical, and subsequent Christian, The conversion of St. Paul (January rites and festivals, as to their periods of oca 25th), has also, for whatever reason, been
currence and identity of purpose. reckoned particularly ominous, with regard
In years when the moveable feasts fall to the future weather of the year; a super- early, Shrovetide § and Ash Wednesday, || stition which prevails in many countries. and their consequent feasts, occur about this The following rhymes seem, in the middle period. ages, to have been familiar to all.
Shrove Tuesday is, in many parts, called
Pancake Tuesday. After the people had “Clara dies Pauli bona tempora denotet anni, made the confession required by the disciSi fuerint venti, designant prælia Genti, Si fuerint Nebulæ, pereunt, animalia q'iæque
pline of the ancient church, they were perSi Nix, si Pluvia, designent tempora cara."
mitted to indulge in festive amusements,
though still not allowed to partake of any “ If St. Paul's day be fair and cleare It doth betide a happy yeare:
repasts beyond the usual substitutes for flesh: But if by chance it then should raine,
hence the custom of eating pancakes and It will make dear all kiods of graine.
fritters at Shrovetide. By the vulgar, too, And if the clouds make dark the skie,
the Monday preceding is, especially in the Then Neate and fowls this year shall die : If blustering winds do blow aloft,
north of England, called Collop Monday, Then wars shall trouble the realm full oft." from the primitive custom of regaling with From the condition of the weather on
eggs, on collops, or slices of bread, which
were subsequently changed to collops of meat. Candlemas Day, also (February 2d), the On Pancake Tuesday it seems to have been superstitious agriculturist has long been accustomed to estimate its character for the year. “ There is a general tradition,” says
* Barnaby Googe's Translat, of Naogeorg. f. 47.
+ Brand's Popular Antiquities, 1. 41. Sir Thomas Browne, “ in most parts of Eu *“ Februa Romani discere piamina patres, rope, that inferreth the coldnesse of succeed. Nunc quoque dant verbo plurima signa fidem."
Orid Fastor. 1. ii. v. 19. ing weather from the shining of the sun on
So called from the Catholic custom of the people Candlemas Day, according to the provincial applying to the priests to shrive them, or bear their distich."
confessions, before entering on the fast the following
day. “ Si sol splendescat Maria purificante
i So designated from the ancient custom of fasting Major erit glacies post festum quam fuit ante." in sack-cloth and ashes. From this period, i.e. from And again
Ash Wednesday to Easter, is the quadragesimal fast
of Lent, so named from the season of the year at “ If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
which it falls. In the laws of Alfred it is called Winter will have another tight!
lengten faesten, or the fast iu spring.
Palm Sunday follows Carlin Sunday, and hereafter), is of the common opinion, that as is that immediately preceding Easter. It the word east signifies the place of rising, was so denominated by the church of Rome, being so called " from its being that quarter because of palm branches being borne, in where, owing to the earth's rotatory motion, commemoration of those that were strewed in the sun and stars appear to rise, so Easter the way when our Saviour entered Jerusalem. signifies the time of rising, or the festival of In many parts of England, the day is still the rising of Jesus Christ :” but this is more celebrated by bearing boughs in procession ; than doubtful; according to the venerable but in northern latitudes, the box, the olive, Bede, the term was of Heathen origin. and the blooming willow, are used as substi. “Easter monath,” says he, " which is now tutes for the palm ; and this circumstance is rendered the Paschal month, formerly re. doubtless the occasion of the last-mentioned ceived its name from a goddess, worshipped tree being, in Cumberland, called by the by the Saxons and other ancient nations of vulgar, the palm.
the north, called Eostre, in whose honour Mandy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, they observed a festival in this month.” is the Thursday immediately before Good " From the name of this goddess," he adds, Friday. It is the Dies Mandati, the day on “ they now design the Paschal season, giving which our Saviour gave his great mandate a name to the joys of a new solemnity, from that we should love one another, and on a term familiarized by the use of former which he washed the feet of his disciples. ages.” The Anglo-Saxon term, is hence reThe practice of washing the feet was long tained in our translation of the Bible, alkept up in the monasteries, and after the though Wiclif uses Pask. The ancient ceremony, liberal donations were made to the Germans called it Oostrun, and their posterity poor, of clothing and pieces of silver ; re. have changed the term to Ostern, Osterdag; freshment was also given to them, to mitigate also written Ooster, Oosteren, and Oosterday. the severity of the long fast. A relic of this Thence the Paschal lamb is in their version custom is still preserved in the donations dis. often rendcred Osterlamb. The entrance of pevsed at St. James's on this day.
the sun into Aries, has always been a time of Good Friday is an appellation peculiar to festivity amongst the Persians, Egyptians, and the English Church. Holy Friday, or Fri- others. The ancient Egyptians, observing day in Holy Week, being more ancient and the sun removing from their climates, began general. Buns, with crosses stamped upon to fear that a day would arrive when it would them, hence called Cross-Buns, are usually quit them entirely,* and consequently they eaten in London and other places on this day, every year celebrated with rejoicing, the at breakfast.
period when they observed its reascenBryant carries this word, Bun, back to sion. Heathenism. “ The offerings,” he says,
In Scotlard, and in the north of England, “ which people in ancient times used to pre a custom prevails, of boiling eggs hard, and sent to the gods, were generally purchased at dying or staining them of various colours, the entrance of the temple; especially every and giving them to children to amuse them species of consecrated bread. Öne species of selves with, especially on Easter Sunday. sacred bread which used to be offered to the In these places children ask for their pays gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun. eggs, as they are termed, at this season, as Hesychius speaks of the Boun, and describes for a fairing. The words, pays, pas, pace, it, “ a kind of cake with a representation of pase,+ pasce, pask, pasch, words used in two horns.” Julius Pollux mentions it after North Britian to signify Easter, are clearly the same manner, “a sort of cake with derived from the Hebrew, through the Greek horns.” It must be observed, however, as narxa. The Danish paaske-egg, and the Dr. Jamieson has remarked, that the term Suis-Gothic paskegg, both likewise signify occurs in Hesychius in the form of Bous, bous; coloured eggs. Brand considers this custom and that, for the support of this etymon, as a relic of ancient Catholicism, the eggs Bryant finds it necessary to observe, that being emblematic of the resurrection : but it the Greeks, who changed the nu final into a is not improbable that it had its commencesigma, expressed it in the nominative Bous, ment in the times of heathenism ; the egg but in the accusative more truly Bour, boun," being a sacred symbol in the pagan worship. - Supplement, p. 159.)
They are still used at the feast of Beltein, which is unquestionably of heathen origin,
and are presented about the period of Easter, CHAPTER III.
in many countries.
EASTER. CONSIDERABLE discussion has occurred from time to tiine, regarding the origin of the term Easter. Dr. Forster (in another of his works, however, which will fall under notice
" Nam rudis ante illos nullo discrimine vita,
Manilii Astronom. 1. 64. + “The sextene day eflyr Pase
The States of Scotlandgid ryd wase." Wyntown.
Customary for boys, and others, to toss thelr is referred to in the Harlalan MS. by John own pancakes.
Lydgate, the monk of Bury, in a poem writ
ten by him in praise of Queen Catherine, wife “It was the day whereon both rich and Are chiefly feasted with the self same dish,
of Henry V. When every paunch, till it can bold no more, Is fritter-fill d, as well as heart can wish:
“Seynte Valentine, of custom yeere by ycere And every man and maide doe take their turne,
Men have an usaunce in this regioun And tosse their pancakes up for feare they burne,
To luke and serche Cupides Kalend-se, And all the kitchen doth with laughter sound
And chose their choyse, by grete affeccioun, To see the pancakes fall upon the ground"
Such as ben prike with Cupides mocioun
Takyng theyre choyse as theyr sort doth falle,
But I love oon whiche excellith alle." In Scotland, Shrovetide is called Fastronevin, Fastryngis-Ewyn, Fasternseen, and
Sl. David's Day (March 1st), is a festival Fastenseen. The Scotch designation is older dear to every Welchman, being kept by them than the English ; for Shrovetide and Shrove in honour of St. David, Bishop of Mincy, in Tuesday are not to be found in the Anglo- Wales, in commemoration of a signal victory Saxon, nor does it appear that there is any obtained by them under the conduct of St. particular name for that day in that lan- David, over the Saxons. The origin of the guage. The Anglo-Saxon word faesten, sig- custom of wearing the leek in their hats, is nifies a fast in general: but allied to the explained in the following lines, affirmed by Scotch term denoting Shrove Tuesday, the Dr. Forster (p. 85), to have been found in an Germans have Fastnacht, or Fastelabend, ancient MS. in the British Museum. literally signifying Fastnight, or Fasteven. The terminations eve, or een, as in Christmas "In Cambria, 'tis said, tradition's lale Eve, New Year's Eve, Fasternseen, or Hal.
Recounting, tells bow famed Mevevia's priest,
Marshalled his Britons and the Saxon ist loween, were first employed, because origin. Discumfited, how the green leek the bands ally all feasts commenced and ended with the Distinguished, since by Britons annual worn,
Comniemorates their tutelary Saiat," evening. The day was primitively computed in this manner. “ The evening and the morning was the first day," and the Jews monies belonging to the moveable feasts,
We may here refer to some of the cercstill adhere to this mode of computation. which occur about this period of the year ; We have a rempant of the same ancient custom in the words se'nnight, and fortnight, is called in the north of England and Scot
and first to those of Carlin Sunday (for so it instead of seven, or fourteen days.-(Jamie. land) formerly denominated Care Sunday, son.)
Formerly, in Newcastle, on those days of which is Passion Sunday,it is the Sunday authorised indulgence, the great bell of St. preceding Palm Sunday,
or the second Sun. Nicholas was tolled 'at twelve o'clock at day from Easter. On this day a custom oba noon ; when the shops and offices were im: the north of England and Scotland, of eating
tains, and has long obtained, especially in mediately closed, and a little carnival (carni Carlings, which are gray peas, steeped all vale, farewell to flesh), ensued for the re. mainder of the day,—and it is still kept as a
night in water, and fried the next day with
butter, sort of balf holiday. It was (Brockett, p. 159), of old, a great period for cock-fighting, “There'll be all the lads and the lasses, and cock-throwing, and indeed of every loose
Set down in the midst of the ha,
With sybows and ryfarts, and carlings, and profligate recreation, excesses arising
That are both soddeu and ra." Ritson. from the indulgences formerly granted by the church in consequence of the long season of In former times, the custom seems to have fasting and humiliation, which commenced been general in England, as Palsgrave has on the following day.
the following phrase “I parche pesyn as It is a vulgar belief, that the first two single folkes vse in Lent." I persons who meet in the morning of St. Va. lentine's day (February 14), may have a
Brand has offered the following, as the most chance of becoming married to each other. probable explanation of the origin of the use of peas St. Valentine's day has long been imagined at this season. It is not satisfactory.
"In the old Roman Calendar, I find it observed on the day whereon birds pair, and hence it has
this day, that a dole is made of soft beans. I can been considered peculiarly ominous to lovers ; bardly entertain a doubt, that our custom is derived so that billets doux, sent on this day, have from hence. It was usual anongst the Romanists received the cognomen of the saint.t
to give away beans in the doles at funerals: it was
also a rite in the funeral ceremonies of heathen The custom of choosing Valentines is an
Rome. Why we have substituted peas I know not, old one; it was practised in the houses of unless it was because they are a pulse somewhat the gentry of England as early as 1476, and fitter to be eaten at this season of the year." And
lie afterwards expresses himself still more forcibly.
Having observed that, according to Erasinus, Plu* Pasquil's Palinodia, 4to. Lond. 1634.
taich Leld pulse (legumina) to be of the highest + Dr. Jamieson (art. Valentine) has asserted that etticacy for invoking the manes, he addsRidicu. the term Valentine is in England restricted to per. lous and absuid as these superstitions may appear, it sons—but he is in error. The billets dour are univer. is yet certain that Carlings deduce their origin from sally so denominated,
thence."-Popular Antiq. 1. 98, 99. ,