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Ceremonies for Candlemasse Eve.
Down with the Rosemary and Bayes,
Instead of Holly, now up-raise
The Holly hitherto did sway; Let Box now domineere,
Untill the dancing Easter-day, On Easter's Eve appeare.
Then youthful Box, which now hath grace,
Grown old, surrender must his place
When Yew is out, then Birch comes in,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kinne,
Green Bushes then, and sweetest Bents,
Come in for comely ornaments
Thus times do shift; each thing his turne do's hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old. Herrick.
Brand cites a curious anecdote concerning John Cosin, bishop of Durham, on this day, from a rare tract, entitled “The Vanitie and Downefall of superstitious Popish Ceremonies, preached in the Cathedral Church of Durham, by one Peter Smart, a prebend there, July 27, 1628,” Edinborough, 4to. 1628. The story is, that “on Candlemass-day last past, Mr. Cozens, in renuing that popish ceremonie of burning Candles to the honour of our lady, busied himself from two of the clocke in the afternoon till foure, in climbing long ladders to stick up wax candles in the said Cathedral Church: the number of all the Candles burnt that evening was two hundred and twenty, besides sixteen torches; sixty of those burning tapers and torches standing upon, and near, the high Altar, (as he calls it,) where no man came nigh.”
A contributor to the Gentleman's Magazine informs Mr. Urban, in 1790, that having visited Harrowgate for his health a few years before, he resided for some time at that pleasant market-town Rippon, where, on the Sunday before Candlemas-day, he observed that the collegiate church, a fine ancient building. was one continued blaze of light all the afternoon from an immense number of candles.
Brand observes, that in the north of
England this day is called the “Wives’ Feast Day;” and he quotes a singular old custom from Martin's book on the Western Islands, to this effect:—“The mistress and servants of each family dress a sheaf of oats in women's apparel, put it in a large basket, and lay a wooden club by it, and this they call Brüd's Bed; and the mistress and servants cry three times, ‘Brüd is come, Brüd is welcome!’ This they do just before going to bed. In the morning they look among the ashes, and if they see the impression of Brüd's club there, they reckon it a presage of a good crop, and o year; if not, they take it as an ill omen.”
A Dorsetshire gentleman communicates a custom which he witnessed at Lyme Regis in his juvenile days; to what extent it prevailed he is unable to say, his knowledge being limited to the domestic circle wherein he was included. The wood-ashes of the family being sold throughout the year as they were made, the person who purchased them annually sent a present on Candlemas-day of a large candle. When night came, this candle was lighted, and, assisted by its illumination, the inmates regaled themselves with cheering draughts of ale, and sippings of punch, or some other animating beverage, until the candle had burnt out. The coming of the Candlemas candle was looked forward to by the young ones as an event of some consequence; for, of usage, they had a sort of right to sit up that night, and partake of the refreshment, till all retired to rest, the signal for which was the self-extinction of the Candlemas candle.
Bishop Hall, in a Sermon on Candlemas-day, remarks, that “it hath been an old (I say not how true) note, that hath been wont to be set on this day, that if it be clear and sun-shiny, it portends a hard weather to come; if cloudy and louring, a mild and gentle season ensuing.” This agrees with cne of Ray's proverbs: “The hind had as lief see his wife on the bier, As that Candlemas-day should be pleasant and clear.”
So also Browne, in his “Vulgar Errors,” affirms, that “there is a general tradition in most parts of Europe, that
This saint has the honour of a place in the church of England calendar, on what account it is difficult to say. All the facts that Butler has collected of him is, that he was bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, receiver of the relics of St. Eustratius, and executor of his last will; that he is venerated for the cure of sore throats; principal patron of Ragusa, titular patron of the wool-combers; and that he was tormented with iron combs, and martyred under Licinius, in 316.
Ribadeneira is more diffuse. He relates, that St. Blase lived in a cave, whither wild beasts came daily to visit him, and be cured by him; “and if it hap
pened that they came while he was at prayer, they did not interrupt him, but waited till he had ended, and never departed without his benediction. He was discovered in his retirement, imprisoned, and cured a youth who had a fish-bone stuck in his throat by praying.” Ribadeneira further says that Ætius, an ancient Greek physician, gave the following
Receipt for a stoppage in the throat :
“ Hold the diseased party by the throat, and pronounce these words:— BLASE, the martyr and servant of Jesus Christ, commands thee to pass up or down l’’
The same Jesuit relates, that St. Blase was scourged, and seven holy women anointed themselves with his blood; whereupon their flesh was combed with iron combs, their wounds ran nothing but milk, their flesh was whiter than snow, angels came visibly and healed their wounds as fast as they were made; and they were put into the fire, which would not consume them; wherefore they were ordered to be beheaded, and beheaded accordingly. Then St. Blase was ordered to be drowned in the lake; but he walked on the water, sat down on it in the middle, and invited the infidels to a sitting; whereupon threescore and eight, who tried the experiment, were drowned, and St. Blase walked back to be beheaded.
The “Golden Legend” says, that a wolf having run away with a woman's swine, she prayed St. Blase that she might have her swine again, and St. Blase promised her, with a smile, she should, and the wolf brought the swine back; then she slew it, and offered the head and the feet, with some bread and a candle, to St. Blase. “And he thanked God, and ete thereof; and he sayd to her, that every yere she sholde offre in his chirche a candell. And she dyd all her lyf, and she had moche grete prosperyte. And knowe thou that to the, and to all them that so shal do, shai well happen to them.”
It is o in a note on Brand, that the candles offered to St. Blase were said to be good for the tooth-ache, and for diseased cattle.
“Then followeth good sir Blase, who doth a waxen Candell give, Wild holy water to his men, whereby they safely live.
I divers Barrels oft have seene, drawne out of water cleare, Through one small blessed bone of this same holy Martyr heare: And caryed thence to other townes and cities farre away, Ech superstition doth require such earnest kinde of play.”
The origin of St. Blase's fame has baf. fled the inquiry of antiquaries; it seems to have rolled off with the darkness of former ages, never to be known again. To the wool-combers this saint is indebted for the maintenance of his reputation in England, for no other trade or persons have any interest in remembering his existence; and this popularity with a body of so much consequence may possibly have been the reason, and the only reason, for the retention of his name in the church calendar at the Reformation. That it is not in the wane with them, is clear from a report in the Leeds Mercury, of the 5th of February, 1825. The article furnishes the very interesting particulars in the subjoined account:
33ist)op 33last's jestibal, AT BRADford, 3d FEBRUARY, 1825.
The septennial festival, held in honour of bishop Blase, and of the invention of wool-combing attributed to that personage, was on this day celebrated at Bradford with great gaiety and rejoicing.
There is no place in the kingdom where the bishop is so splendidly commemorated as at Bradford. In 1811, 1818, and at previous septennial periods, the occasion was celebrated with great pomp and festivity, each celebration surpassing the preceding ones in numbers and brilliance. The celebration of 1825 eclipsed all hitherto seen, and it is most gratifying to know, that this is owing to the high prosperity of the worsted and woollen manufactures, which are constantly adding fresh streets and suburban villages to the town.
The different trades began to assemble at eight o'clock in the morning, but it was near ten o'clock before they all were arranged in marching order in Westgate. The arrangements were actively superintended by Matthew Thompson, Esq. The morning was brilliantly beautiful. As early as seven o'clock, strangers pour
ed into Bradford from the surrounding towns and villages, in such numbers as to fine the roads in every direction; and almost all the vehicles within twenty miles were in requisition. Bradford was never before known to be so crowded with strangers. Many thousands of individuals must have come to witness the scene: About ten o'clock the procession was drawn up in the following order:Herald bearing a flag. Woolstaplers on horseback, each horse caparisoned with a fleece. Worsted Spinners and Manufacturers on horseback, in white stuff waistcoats, with each a sliver over the shoulder, and a white stuff sash; the horses' necks covered with nets made of thick yarn. Merchants on horseback, with coloured sashes. ThreeGuards. Masters'Colours. Three Guards. 4pprentices and Masters' Sons, on horseback, with ornamented caps, scarlet stuff coats, white stuff waistcoats, and blue pantaloons. Bradford and Keighley Bands. Mace-bearer, on foot. Six Guards. KING. Quees. Six Guards. Guards. Jason. PRINcess Medea. Guards. Bishop's Chaplain. BISHOP BLASE. Shepherd and Shepherdess. Shepherd Swains. Woolsorters, on horseback, with ornamented caps, and various coloured slivers. Comb Makers. Charcoal Burners. Combers' Colours. Band. Woolcombers, with wool wigs, &c. Band. Dyers, with red cockades, blue aprons, and crossed slivers of red and blue.
The following were the numbers of the different bodies, as nearly as could be estimated :–24 woolstaplers, 38 spinners and manufacturers, 6 merchants, 56 apprentices and masters' sons, 160 woolsorters, 30 combmakers, 470 wool-combers, and 40 dyers. The KING, on this occasion, was an old man, named Wm. Clough, of Darlington, who had filled the regal station at four previous celebrations. Jason (the celebrated legend of the Golden Fleece of Colchis, is interwoven with the commemoration of the bishop,) was personated by John Smith; and the fair MEDEA, to whom he was indebted for his spoils, rode by his side.—BISHOP BLASF was a personage of very be
coming gravity, also named John Smith;
To him whose goodness to the poor abounds;
Long shall his name in British annals shine,
Indian Bay. Laurus Indica. Dedicated to St. Margaret of England.
februarp 5. Holiday at the Exchequer.
St. Agatha. The Martyrs of Japan. The
Martyrs of China. St. Avitus, Arch
bishop, A. D. 525. St. Alice, or
Adelaide, A. D. 1015. St. Abraamius,
Bishop of Arbela.
This saint, who is in the calendar of the church of England, was a Sicilian martyr about the year 251. Butler relates, that before her death she was tortured, and being refused physicians, St. Peter himself came from heaven, healed her wounds, and filled her prison with light. He also as gravely states, that several times when Catana was in danger from the eruptions of mount HEtna, her veil carried in procession averted the volcanic matter from the city.