Old Lammastide customs at MidlothianSome Galloway customsThrowing the
hoshen Fykes FairGiving up the namesOld gamesThe priests
catCustoms at new moonOld marriage ceremoniesBar for barThe game of
Blinchamps The game of Burly WhushThe game of king and queen of
LAMMASTIDE CUSTOMS AT
IN the first volume of
the Archaeologia Scotica,published by the Society of Antiquaries of
Scotland in 1792, there is a very good description of the manner in
which the Lammas festival used to be celebrated in Mid-Lothian about the
middle of the eighteenth century. From this paper it appears that all
the herds within a certain district towards the beginning of summer
associated themselves into hands, sometimes to the number of a hundred
or more. Each of these communities agreed to build a tower in some
conspicuous place near the centre of their district. This tower was
usually built of sods, though sometimes of stones. It was for the most
part square, about 4 feet in diameter at the bottom, and tapering to a
point at the top, which was seldom above 7 feet or eight feet from the
ground. In building it a hole was left in the centre for admitting a
flags Lai;', on which were displayed their colours on the great day of
the festival. This tower was generally commenced about a month before
Lammas, being seldom entirely completed till close upon that time. From
the moment the foundation of the tower was laid it became an object of
care and attention to-the whole community, for it was reckoned a
disgrace to suffer it to be defaced. As the honour that was acquired by
the demolition of a tower, if effected by those belonging to another,
was in proportion to the disgrace of suffering it to be demolished, each
party endeavoured to circumvent the other as much -as possible. To give
the alarm of the approach of an attacking party, every person was armed
with a tooting-horn. As the great day of Lammas approached, each
community chose one from among themselves for their captain. They
marched forth early in the morning on Lammas Day dressed in their best
apparel, each armed with a stout cudgel, and, repairing to their tower,
there displayed their colours in triumph. If news was brought that a
hostile party approached, the horns sounded to arms. Seldom did they
admit the approach of the enemy, but usually went forth to meet them.
When the two parties met they mutually desired each other to lower their
colours in sign of subjection, and if there appeared to be a great
disproportion in the strength of the parties, the weakest usually
submitted to this ceremony without much difficulty. But if they were
nearly equal in strength none of them would yield, and the meeting ended
in blows, and sometimes in bloodshed. When they had remained at their
tower till about mid-day, if no opponent appeared, or if they themselves
had no intention of making an attack, they then took down their colours
and marched with horns sounding towards the most considerable village in
their district, when the lasses and all the people came out to meet them
and partake of their diversions. Boundaries were immediately appointed,
and a proclamation made that all who intended to compete in the race
should appear. A bonnet ornamented with ribbons was displayed upon a
pole as the prize of the victor. The prize of the second race was a pair
of garters, and the third a knife. When two parties met and one yielded
to the other, they marched together for some time in two separate
bodies, the subjected body behind the other; and then they parted good
friends, each party performing their races at thair own appointed place.
THE CUSTOM OF THROWING THE HO SHUN.
On the borders of
Galloway when a young woman got married before her elder sister, this
sister danced at her bridal without shoes. It was also customary here
for the bride to remove her left stocking and throw it at random amongst
the crowd. 'Whoever happened to catch it was the first to get married.
OLD FAIR CUSTOM IN
There was a singular fair
called Fykes Fair held annually at the Clachan o Auchencairn. It began
at ten oclock at night, continuing till morning and through part of the
next day. All the idle and dissolute characters in Galloway congregated
in crowds at this fair.
CUSTOM REGARDING MARRIAGE
Giving up the, Names,
is the designation of what used to be the ceremony attending the giving
in to the precentor, the names of those intending to marry, to be
proclaimed in church during Divine worship, so that any persons v/ho
wished to prevent such and such marriages from taking place might have
an opportunity of stating their objections.- They had the power of
throwing down sixpence and protesting against such proceedings going any
further. This was, however, seldom done. These names were generally
given in on a Saturday night. In doing so the parties met in a public
house. No females were present. The father or brother of the bride was
her representative. The bridegroom and the best man were present. On
the. precentor being called in to attend the meeting the names were
written down on a slip of paper, the brides name by her male relation,
and the bridegrooms by his best man. After this was done, whisky was
introduced, and those present speedily became intoxicated.
OLD FIRESIDE GAMES.
There is a fireside game
called the Priests Cat. A piece of stick is made red in the tire ; one
hands it to another, saying
About wi that, about wi
Keep alive the Priest's Gat.
round goes the stick, and
the person in whose hand the flame goes out has lost the wager, and must
pay a forfeit. In olden times when the priests cat died, great
lamentation ensued throughout the country, as it was supposed to become
transformed into some supernatural being or witch who might work
mischief; so to keep it alive was a great matter.
There is another old and
favourite fireside game played by youths and maidens amongst the
peasantry, called Hey Willie Wine, and how Willie Wine, One of the
latter addresses one of the former thus,
Hey Willie wine, and how
I hope for home youll not incline;
You had better stop and stay all night
And Ill gie thee a lady bright.
Then he answers
"What will ye gie if I
with thee bide
To be my bonny blooming bride 1
Ill gie ye, Kate o
A bonny body like yoursell.
Ill stick her up in the
I loed her once, but shes no for me,
Yet I thank you for your courtesy.
This game concludes with
the girl proposing a maiden agreeable to the youth. Before the questions
are put, the lad whispers to a companion the name he will stop with, so
this one must be given before the dialogue ends. The chief aim of this
somewhat whimsical amusement seems to be, to discover one anothers
sweethearts. In olden times these discoveries were considered very
The maidens in Galloway,
in former days, when first they saw the new moon, sallied out of doors,
and pulled a handful of grass, saying
New moon, new moon, tell
me if you can
Gif I have a hair like the hair o my gudeman!
The grass was then
brought into the house and carefully searched, and if a hair was found
amongst it, which was not unfrequently the case, the colour of the hair
determined that of the future husband. It was also an old custom, on
first seeing the new moon, to turn money in the pocket.
BAB FOB BAB.
The Gallowegians are or
were so fond of rhyme that they have a game connected with it. One of
the players invents a rhyme, the next who follows must make one to rhyme
with it, and at the same time agree with it in sense. The third follows
and so on. Those who can invent the best and most rhymes wins the game,
and are declared to have the most poetry in their composition.
OLD RUSTIC GAME.
There is a very curious
rustic game termed Blinchamp. When a birds nest is found, such as a
Corbie's, or Hoodiecroivs, or that of any other bird that people
dislike, the eggs are taken out of it and laid in a row a little way
apart from each other. One of the players has then something bound over
his eyes to prevent him from seeing. A stick is then put in his hand,
and he walks forward, as he fancies straight up to the eggs, and strikes
at them. Another succeeds him until they thus blind-folded break them
all. Hence the term Blinchamp,
GAME OF BURLY WHUSH.
Burly Whush is the name
given to a game played with the hall. The hall is thrown up on a house
or wall by one of the players, who cries out the instant it is thrown to
another to catch it before it falls to the ground. Then they all run
off, excepting the one individual called, to a little distance, and if
he fails to catch it, he calls out burly whush. Then the others are
arrested in their flight, and must run no farther. He then singles out
one of them, and throws the ball at him. He in his turn throws the ball,
and so on. Should a house be near at hand, as is generally the case, and
any of the party take refuge behind it, they must still show one of
their hands past the corner to the burly whush man, who sometimes hits
it with such force as to make it tingle for hours afterwards.
KING AND QUEEN OF CANTELON.
This used to be a
favourite game with the Galloway youths. Two of the swiftest of them are
placed between two doons or places of safety, situated about two hundred
paces distant from each other. The other boys stand in one of these
doons. Then two fleet youths come forward and address them with this
King and .Queen o
How many miles to Babylon,
Six or seven or a long eight
Try to win there wi candle light.
Then out they all ran in
hopes to get to Babylon or the other doon without being caught. Those
captured ere they reach Babylon are not allowed to run again until all
the others are taken, when a fresh game commences. This is a game of
great antiquity, and is believed to be a mimic representation of scenes
and characters in the lime of the Crusades. The King and Queen of
Cantelon are supposed to be King and Queen of Caledon, then the name
Babylon, introduced into the rhyme, the long way they had to wander and
the chance there was of their being caught by the infidels, all point to
the origin of the game.
OLD MARRIAGE CEREMONIES.
Marriage ceremonies are
not nearly of so much importance nor so well attended as formerly. Old
women have been heard to say that the spirit o waddings has left the
country. Waddin bawes,money tossed amongst the people at marriages.
Waddin brail's,dresses for marriage. The buying of' these braws was
deemed a very serious affair, as it was the first time the young people
appeared in public. Waddin sarksthe bride previous to marriage, in
proof of her skill as a needlewoman, made the bridegroom a shirt,hence
the above term. A peasant once remarked to a friend, that he really
never intended to take Maggie (his wife), but the cutty saw this, flew
to his neck, and measured him fur the sark, and so he was obliged to
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.