Sunday, 17 November 2013

Christmas customs now long gone

There was a custom in Gloucestershire that as part of the Wassailers at Christmas they would be accompanied by a man wearing a sack with his head thrust into the hollowed out head of a bull.
" The Bull, shaggy head with horns complete, shaggy coat and eyes of glass, was wont to appear, uninvited, at any Christmas festivities. None knew when he might or might not appear. He was given the freedom of every house and allowed to penetrate  into any room, escorted by his keeper. The whole company would flee before his formidable horns, the more so as towards the end of the evening, neither  the Bull nor his keeper could be certified as strictly sober. The Christmas Bull is now obsolete, but up to forty years ago, he was recognised custom."
 note this was written about the time of the second world war.
'Dorset up along and Down along'
With the onset of the war many customs such as these were put to one side; however once peace reigned they were never resurrected, mores the pity!
Another similar custom was the Hoddening Horse, although  he did not invade houses in quite the same manner he toured the villages with a band of young men and boys, prancing in front of open doorways. He was covered in a white sheet and wore a horses head whose jaws snapped ferociously open and shut on hinges. This was a winter custom, taking place around Christmas in some districts and All Hallows Eve in others.

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