Catching up, customs, celebrations.

Catching up…

With the return to work last week, research and blogging has had to take a back seat, especially as my evenings and Saturday have been busy.  I noticed I’ve missed two days of  note in the calendar!

Two days of work and I’m shattered.  Mind you, that tends to happen being  a teacher.  The long summer break gives me the time to rest, relax and almost totally de-stress.  Unfortunately, it takes mere minutes for some of the good work to be undone.  Keeping up with my meditation regimen when I rise and before I sleep, and at lunch or during preparation time during the day usually helps me to keep the escalation of stress to a minimum, but it doesn’t eliminate it totally…not yet.  Recognising the automatic thoughts and reactions and then working to change them to more healthy versions is slow going, my mind has had a lifetime to reduce this self-talk to a susurrus that I have to be very cunning to clearly hear.

Isn’t susurrus a wonderful word?  It sounds like quiet, secretive whisperings.  A wonderful onomatopoeic word!  I like alliteration as well as onomatopoeia!

3rd September – Cromwell Day

On this day, The Cromwell Association commemorate his death with an open-air service in front of his statue outside the Houses of Parliament, London, where they lay a wreath there.  Only members of the Cromwell Association may attend, but the public can see and hear the ceremony from the public pavement.

70013 Oliver Cromwell is a Britannia Class (BR Standard Class 7) steam locomotive.

3rd September – Merchant Navy Day

Merchant seamen have long felt that their service’s significant contribution to the war effort has long been undervalued and it is one of the aims of the Merchant Navy Association to raise the profile of the Merchant Navy and celebrate its importance to Britain, both in the past and the present.  As part of this mission in 2000 they declared 3rd of September to be Merchant Navy Day.  This day was chosen as it also commemorates the sinking of the unarmed merchant vessel the SS Athenia on 3 September 1939, the first day of the Second World War.  All nineteen crew and ninety-three passengers were lost.

4th September – Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

On the Monday following the local Wakes Sunday (i.e. the first Sunday after 4 September, or Old St Bartholomew’s Day), the village and surroundings of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire, England, UK, are visited by a unique set of dancers.  The team consists of six men, each carrying a splendid pair of reindeer antlers, plus a Fool, a Maid Marian (played by a man), a hobby horse, a bowman (who twangs a bow), a musician and a triangle player.

At 8 a.m., they set out from the village church and perambulates the parish, visiting key houses, farms and other places and at each stop they perform their dance.  It is thought to be unlucky if they do not visit your house or neighbourhood.  Around 8 p.m. they return to the village and perform their final dance in the street.

The horns are kept in the church when not in use.  They are genuine reindeer horns, mounted on wooden heads, with a handle protruding from below to allow the dancers to carry them as they dance.

There is a lot of speculation about the origin of the custom.  Many have connected it to a fertility ritual, an ancient ceremony to ensure successful hunting, or of some common right or privilege in regard to the chase, but none of these ideas is supported by evidence.  It may be that the hobby horse is older than the horn dance, and hobby horses were used in the C16th to collect taxes and dues owed to the lord of the manor; whether the horse made the collections or whether it was there to entertain and sweeten the process of money-gathering is not known.

4th September – Barnet Horse Fair

This horse fair was chartered in 1588 and for centuries was one of the busiest livestock marts in the region, although Barnet’s real fame lay in horse-racing which drew large and unruly crowds from London until it ended in 1870.  A mere shadow of its former self, Barnet Horse Fair is now held at Greengates Stables on 4, 5 and 6 September, unless one of those dates is a Sunday, in which case it continues on the following day.

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