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Folklore: 14th May

TheSnail 14 May 09 - 06:47 AM
Valmai Goodyear 14 May 09 - 06:53 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 14 May 09 - 07:13 AM
Phil Edwards 14 May 09 - 07:18 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 14 May 09 - 07:18 AM
Les from Hull 14 May 09 - 08:49 AM
TheSnail 14 May 09 - 09:26 AM
Les from Hull 14 May 09 - 10:02 AM
Liz the Squeak 14 May 09 - 05:39 PM
TheSnail 14 May 09 - 07:38 PM
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Subject: Folklore: 14th May
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:47 AM

"Wasn't I pretty
As I entered Cork city
And met with my downfall
On the 14th of May."

The 14th of May seems to crop up in a few songs and I think there is a tune of that name. Is it a significant date? A festival or hiring fair perhaps? The young man in the song seems to be looking for a bit of Rest and Recreation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:53 AM

'On the fourteenth of May, at the dawn of the day
With my gun on my shoulder, to the woods I did stray'

(Bonny Black Hare)

It seems to have been a day for contracting social diseases, or at least having a good try. The chap in Cork succeeded.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 14 May 09 - 07:13 AM

Some versions of Blow the Man Down mention the 13th May. "We went over the bar on the 13th May".

Perhaps they were sailing off to avoid something!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 May 09 - 07:18 AM

I used to be convinced the young man had been mortally wounded in some historic military engagement on the 14th of May. Then I read that the song's in the St James Infirmary Blues family and the guy was dying of the clap - so probably not a historic engagement, except for him.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 14 May 09 - 07:18 AM

I just checked with the "Jug of Punch" lyrics but that is 23rd June and is to do with new laws being brough in about the measures that beer was served in. The jug would have become outlawed from 24th June onwards (can't remember the year, 17xx). You sometimes see reproductions of the old poster announcing the new law framed on the walls of pubs that are trying to look "authentic".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: Les from Hull
Date: 14 May 09 - 08:49 AM

Bank holidays pass almost unnoticed, but May 14th, or Pag-rag day, is a great event, when the single farm servants, male and female, leave their places, or at least take a week's holiday, and spend the time visiting their friends and going round to different markets. The married men decide whether they will remain with their masters at Candlemas; they have the privilege of attending what is called the labourer's market soon after that date, when they hire themselves again and leave their old places April 6th.

Lincolnshire custom noted by Mrs Gutch and Mabel Peacock in 1908, recounted in 'The English Year' by Steve Roud, published by Penguin Reference.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 09 - 09:26 AM

Thanks, Les. It looks as if that was the answer I was looking for. Googling seems to give contradictory ideas as to whether it is an English or "Celtic" tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: Les from Hull
Date: 14 May 09 - 10:02 AM

This was noted in Lincolnshire, I can't say if the same thing happened in other parts of the British Isles. I can recommend the book to anyone with a general interest in English folk customs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 14 May 09 - 05:39 PM

It's nearer 'Old May Day' - what would have been 1st May before the calendars were changed in 1752 - 200 years after much of Europe.

It's Abbotsbury Garland day today, down in Dorset. Wonder if it's still going?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 14th May
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 09 - 07:38 PM

I wondered about that, LtS, but it is specfically the 14th rather than about the 14th. I like Les's idea. Young people with cash in their pockets out for a bit of fun after the drudgery and restrictions of tied labour.


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