The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54141   Message #837002
Posted By: DG&D Dave
29-Nov-02 - 06:31 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Pace egging Song
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
Here is a reasonable explanation that I ripped off the Vancouver Morrismen site

The pace-egging play is an example of the English ritual folk plays, called Mumming plays, which are believed to be the oldest plays in the English language. These plays were performed predominantly in the villages of England around Christmas time. However, in the north west of England they were performed around All Soul's Day (better known as Halloween) or at Easter.
The pace-egging play is the Easter version and gets it's name from the old English word for Easter - Pasch. The festival predates Christianity which, as was often the case, superimosed a new festival on top of an older pagan celebration. The word Easter is itself derived from the name of the Saxon goddess for springtime - Eastre (or Eostre) whose sacred beast was the hare - the old version of the Easter bunny! Eggs have been associated with Easter - and many other springtime festivals around the world - as an obvious symbol of continuing life and resurrection.

So what's the Mumming Play about? What does it all mean?

Probably not a lot! Over the centuries it has evolved and been changed to the point where we can only guess at what it all means. There are, however, some common elements found in all the plays collected around England. Someone is killed (in our pace-egging play it is the Turkish Knight who is killed by St. George) and a quack doctor revives him. This is thought to represent the yearly cycle of the Earth - life seems to die in the Winter and is revived in the Spring. So it's possibly some old ritual magic to ensure that the cycle of the seasons continues. The other common element is the strange consutmes worn by the "actors". The ribbons, rags and covered face (sometimes blackened) are thought to act as disguise to ensure that the magic of the ritual will work. The covered face may give us a clue as to where the term "Mumming" originated. The German for mask is mummen, so perhaps the Saxons brought the play to England.

If you ever see our pace-egging play, please remember:

"Put your hands in your pocket and pull out your purse,
Give us a trifle, you'll not feel much worse".