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Folklore: Crying The Neck

Cats 12 Sep 09 - 04:43 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 12 Sep 09 - 09:00 PM
corncockle 13 Sep 09 - 06:17 AM
Cats 13 Sep 09 - 06:30 AM
BB 13 Sep 09 - 10:08 AM
Cats 13 Sep 09 - 05:39 PM
A Wandering Minstrel 14 Sep 09 - 08:12 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Crying The Neck
From: Cats
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 04:43 AM

Tonight our hamlet will 'Cry The Neck', an ancient custom where the last sheaf of the harvest is cut with a scythe, held aloft and cried to the East, West and South with the words, What 'ave ee?, the company responding 'a Neck'. It is then tied with a red ribbon and taken back in procession to the farm where it is put in the beams of the barn to ensure a good harvest next year. Alcohol comes into it [of course] as we all drink from a jug of ale and the rest is poured into the ground as an offering for future harvest and thanks for the past. Tonight we will be at Treovis which is on the top of a hill overlooking the moors at sunset. A stunning venue. Then back for food and drink, singing and music. I would be very interested to know just how widespread this custom still is and if it still happens in your area. I have some 16th century plasterwork on my lounge ceiling of a sheaf of corn decorated for harvest so would say that it eveidence of the tradition here back that far.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Crying The Neck
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 09:00 PM

What a wonderful thing! Here in New England, most traditions don't go back quite that far. In fact, if we did it last year and do it again this year, it's now a tradition!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Crying The Neck
From: corncockle
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 06:17 AM

Hope your ceremony went well last night. I would have loved to join you. Yes! There are various areas of Cornwall that still hold this ancient ceremony. Have a look at the photos on this website to see pictures taken over the years: http://www.strawcraftsmen.co.uk/cryneck.php


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Crying The Neck
From: Cats
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 06:30 AM

Last night was wonderful and there are masses of pics on facebook. I know Cornwall still does this but am wondering how far outside the duchy it is still preserved and by local farming communities and not by a 'society', e.g Old Cornwall.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Crying The Neck
From: BB
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 10:08 AM

We had some archive film of it (from Cornwall) in our 'This Farming Life' show.

And in response to Animaterra, in the words of Terry Pratchett in a lecture to the Folklore Society, "A tradition is something we've done once." Not sure I believe it, but it was quite amusing at the time.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Crying The Neck
From: Cats
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 05:39 PM

Thanks BB. I know the Old Cornwall Society still arrange it on one or two farms but this is the farmers in our hamlet who do it, with the rest of the villagers and a few friends who appreciate things like this. The farmer who cuts, sheafs, binds and cries it remembers actually doing it when he was younger here. We also wassail the orchards on the two hamlet farms and my trees in January.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Crying The Neck
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:12 AM

There used to be an Gaelic custom called Cutting the Cailleach. It was considered unlucky to be the reaper who cut the last stand of the crop so the men would take turns throwing their sickles till someone cut the last stalk. they then had to tie the last sheaf and get it home without it getting wet to avert the curse. Naturally their route home was lined with folks holding full buckets.


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