A Little Local Color

Cheese rolling
Nicola here, talking today about the local color (or colour where I come from!) that customs and traditions can add to stories.

Here In the UK it is the start of the festival season. Not the music festivals, which take place later in the summer when (hopefully) the weather will be warmer for those camping outdoors, but the historic parades, contests and just-plain-mad customs that constitute the eccentric English local folklore traditions. This year the cheese-rolling contest in Gloucestershire has been cancelled because of health and safety concerns (you can see why in the picture above!) but there are still plenty of other bizarre goings on. Here are a few of them:

Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scrambling

This takes place in Leicestershire and dates back to the 18th century. The event begins with a parade through the villages of Hallaton and Medbourne where a hearty hare pie (nowadays made of beef) is hurled into the crowd. Once the "hare pie scramble" is won the real battle commences; two teams wrestle the "bottle", which is a small beer barrel, over ditches, hedges, fields and streams. The game is reputedly as ugly as it is competitive.

Jack in the Green Parade

Jack in the green Another festival dating back to the 18th century, this one has some of the most outrageous costumes in the country. Originally the garlands worn at May Day were a matter of great competition between the town guilds in Hastings, Sussex. The chimney sweeping guild created enormous costumes that completely hid the person underneath. These developed into the character of Jack-in-the-Green, a 9 foot tall frame covered in twigs and leaves with a leather mask. Jack-in-the-Green leads a parade of 1000 dancers through the town to the castle where he is slain to free the spirit of spring. Fortunately Jack is only slain symbolically these days – I'm not sure what happened in the 18th century!

Hunting the Earl of Rone

This one is my personal favourite, a four day pageant in Combe Martin in Devon, during which villagers Earl_of_rone re-enact the legend of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, who was forced to flee from Ireland in 1607 for supporting the politics of Irish rule. The legend states that O'Neill was shipwrecked in Reparee Cove, hid in the woods and tried to survive on ships biscuits but was finally caught by Grenadiers sent from Barnstaple. In reality, O'Neill escaped to Spain and there is no evidence to suggest that he was ever in Devon, so why he became a focus of this particular custom is a mystery. On the fourth day of the pageant the "Earl" is found, mounted back to front on a donkey and paraded to the sea, frequently falling off when "shot" by the Grenadiers. At the final shooting on the beach he is thrown into the sea. Again, this is symbolic these days. By the time the final shooting occurs the actor playing the Earl has been replaced by a dummy. The Hunting of the Earl of Rone was banned in 1837 for encouraging drunkenness and licentious behaviour, and certainly the hunters do seem to drop into the pub regularly for sustenance. That's the "Earl" in the picture, sitting backwards on his donkey, poor chap.

Celebrations Banned By Cromwell

There are many others: The 'Obby 'Oss Festival in Cornwall, the carnival processions of Somerset and the famous Guy Fawkes' tradition in Ottery St Mary, Devon, where burning barrels of tar are rolled down the street. During Cromwell’s Commonwealth in England, from 1649 – 1660, entertainments such as these were suppressed, reflecting the Puritanical outlook of that period. There was much grumbling as local festivals provided an outlet for drinking and violence as well as a holiday for the hard-working "common" folk! The restoration of monarchy in 1660 saw the reintroduction of many local traditions and customs. And whilst these are lots of fun simply for the spectacle and the entertainment, they are also a source of rich inspiration and local colour for an author.

Background and setting

The lost garden Background and setting can be a very powerful tool in creating the atmosphere of a story.  A really good historical romance will subtly convey all the flavour of the period.  It can become so real that you can almost taste it.  One of my favourite authors when it comes to establishing background and setting is Daphne Du Maurier, whose descriptions in books like Frenchman's Creek and Jamaica Inn are powerfully atmospheric and totally compelling. Another is Jane Aiken Hodge and I think it was her use of the Lewes Bonfire tradition in her Georgian-set book The Lost Garden that first made me aware of the way that local customs and traditions can be woven into a story to help establish atmosphere. The Lost Garden portrays the masked, torchlit procession through the streets of Oldchurch (the name she gave to Lewes in the book) with such sinister menace that I was practically cowering under the bedcovers as I read it. And not only did the bonfire tradition add some local colour to the story, Jane Aiken Hodge also used it move the plot along, with the hero rescuing the heroine from the murderous intentions of the mob on Bonfire Night.

I used local traditions in my very first book, True Colours, to create atmosphere and to show character True Colours as well. In the story the heroine, Alicia, attends the cider wassail in her local village in Somerset. The cider wassail is a custom that takes place early in the year, after dark, in the apple orchards. In the past, the villagers would fill earthenware cups with cider and toss these into the branches of the trees, then sing the wassailing song and drink a toast (or several) to encourage a prolific harvest. The aim was to make as much noise as possible with shotguns fired into the branches, trays banged and cow horns blown to wake up the sleeping trees. This was then followed by more drinking, dancing and celebrating. In True Colours, Alicia wants to dance but her suitor Christopher Westwood isn't keen to lower himself to join in rustic entertainments. Step forward the dashing hero, James Mullineaux, who carries Alicia off into the dance!

England in particular So I believe that the local colour lent to a book through customs and traditions can be a very useful tool for an author and I love bringing a dash of folklore into my books. I have a wonderful research book called England in Particular by Sue Clifford and Angela King which is full of information on eccentric traditions. When I use these stories though I have to remember the rule about not letting the event itself take over so it feels like an information dump of all the research I've done – I may be completely enraptured by the custom of Hunting the Earl of Rone but I can't let that dominate so that the book reads like a cross between a travel guide and an encyclopaedia of English folklore. My books are historical romance so the book is all about the developing relationship of the hero and heroine against a setting that I want to be vivid and engaging but which cannot take centre stage itself. I do find, though, that the eccentric customs of the British Isles can be a wonderful way of developing the plot and throwing my characters together.

Do you have a favourite local tradition or custom? Or have you read a book, historical or contemporary, where the author uses local customs to great effect to develop the story?

135 thoughts on “A Little Local Color”

  1. Thank you, Nicola, for a fun post! My mother is from South Devon, but I had not heard of the “Hunting of Earl of Rone.” But I spent childhood summers visiting Dartmoor, so I am intimately familiar with Widecombe Fair:
    Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare.
    All along, down along, out along lee.
    For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
    With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
    Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
    When I was a college junior, I shared a house with another Math major. We hosted a party after a challenging semester. My roommate served drinks on a tin tray with the words from Widecome Fair – I was just shocked! Her grandmother lived in Winkleigh, north of Dartmoor. So we had a good laugh that night … and traveled to Devon four years later.

    Reply
  2. Thank you, Nicola, for a fun post! My mother is from South Devon, but I had not heard of the “Hunting of Earl of Rone.” But I spent childhood summers visiting Dartmoor, so I am intimately familiar with Widecombe Fair:
    Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare.
    All along, down along, out along lee.
    For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
    With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
    Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
    When I was a college junior, I shared a house with another Math major. We hosted a party after a challenging semester. My roommate served drinks on a tin tray with the words from Widecome Fair – I was just shocked! Her grandmother lived in Winkleigh, north of Dartmoor. So we had a good laugh that night … and traveled to Devon four years later.

    Reply
  3. Thank you, Nicola, for a fun post! My mother is from South Devon, but I had not heard of the “Hunting of Earl of Rone.” But I spent childhood summers visiting Dartmoor, so I am intimately familiar with Widecombe Fair:
    Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare.
    All along, down along, out along lee.
    For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
    With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
    Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
    When I was a college junior, I shared a house with another Math major. We hosted a party after a challenging semester. My roommate served drinks on a tin tray with the words from Widecome Fair – I was just shocked! Her grandmother lived in Winkleigh, north of Dartmoor. So we had a good laugh that night … and traveled to Devon four years later.

    Reply
  4. Thank you, Nicola, for a fun post! My mother is from South Devon, but I had not heard of the “Hunting of Earl of Rone.” But I spent childhood summers visiting Dartmoor, so I am intimately familiar with Widecombe Fair:
    Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare.
    All along, down along, out along lee.
    For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
    With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
    Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
    When I was a college junior, I shared a house with another Math major. We hosted a party after a challenging semester. My roommate served drinks on a tin tray with the words from Widecome Fair – I was just shocked! Her grandmother lived in Winkleigh, north of Dartmoor. So we had a good laugh that night … and traveled to Devon four years later.

    Reply
  5. Thank you, Nicola, for a fun post! My mother is from South Devon, but I had not heard of the “Hunting of Earl of Rone.” But I spent childhood summers visiting Dartmoor, so I am intimately familiar with Widecombe Fair:
    Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare.
    All along, down along, out along lee.
    For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
    With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
    Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
    When I was a college junior, I shared a house with another Math major. We hosted a party after a challenging semester. My roommate served drinks on a tin tray with the words from Widecome Fair – I was just shocked! Her grandmother lived in Winkleigh, north of Dartmoor. So we had a good laugh that night … and traveled to Devon four years later.

    Reply
  6. That picture of “jack in the Green” had a rather “shrekish” quality to it. Thanks for a very interesting post. Kathy K

    Reply
  7. That picture of “jack in the Green” had a rather “shrekish” quality to it. Thanks for a very interesting post. Kathy K

    Reply
  8. That picture of “jack in the Green” had a rather “shrekish” quality to it. Thanks for a very interesting post. Kathy K

    Reply
  9. That picture of “jack in the Green” had a rather “shrekish” quality to it. Thanks for a very interesting post. Kathy K

    Reply
  10. That picture of “jack in the Green” had a rather “shrekish” quality to it. Thanks for a very interesting post. Kathy K

    Reply
  11. I remember the hobby horse from when I lived in Cornwall (in Padstow)plus Helston Floral Dance, and then there is the weird and wonderful Coconut Dancers of Bacup. Seeing is believing.

    Reply
  12. I remember the hobby horse from when I lived in Cornwall (in Padstow)plus Helston Floral Dance, and then there is the weird and wonderful Coconut Dancers of Bacup. Seeing is believing.

    Reply
  13. I remember the hobby horse from when I lived in Cornwall (in Padstow)plus Helston Floral Dance, and then there is the weird and wonderful Coconut Dancers of Bacup. Seeing is believing.

    Reply
  14. I remember the hobby horse from when I lived in Cornwall (in Padstow)plus Helston Floral Dance, and then there is the weird and wonderful Coconut Dancers of Bacup. Seeing is believing.

    Reply
  15. I remember the hobby horse from when I lived in Cornwall (in Padstow)plus Helston Floral Dance, and then there is the weird and wonderful Coconut Dancers of Bacup. Seeing is believing.

    Reply
  16. Great post Nicola! I find myself fascinated by the many, many town festivities of the English. Where I live, we don’t seem to have any; unless one counts the re-enactment of Gettysburg during the first few (and often steamy) days of July, or the many local firefighters’ parades revolving round a paid carnival coming to town for fund-raising.
    Anyway, sad to say, I often feel more connected with England’s history than the history of the land upon which I live. Maybe that’s why Regency Romance tends to flourish in the US. That, and we (a portion of us anyway) instinctively know from whence we came. 🙂
    Nina (whose ancestral roots are in northern England)
    P.S. I watched Cranford (season 1, episode 4) last night, where the characters were attending a local estate auction. Talk about something that hasn’t changed one iota in the last hundred plus years. I don’t believe I’ve ever connected with time-pasted as I did in that moment. If I’d a proper understanding of the monetary denominations, I could have intelligently participated. Now, what to do with that…

    Reply
  17. Great post Nicola! I find myself fascinated by the many, many town festivities of the English. Where I live, we don’t seem to have any; unless one counts the re-enactment of Gettysburg during the first few (and often steamy) days of July, or the many local firefighters’ parades revolving round a paid carnival coming to town for fund-raising.
    Anyway, sad to say, I often feel more connected with England’s history than the history of the land upon which I live. Maybe that’s why Regency Romance tends to flourish in the US. That, and we (a portion of us anyway) instinctively know from whence we came. 🙂
    Nina (whose ancestral roots are in northern England)
    P.S. I watched Cranford (season 1, episode 4) last night, where the characters were attending a local estate auction. Talk about something that hasn’t changed one iota in the last hundred plus years. I don’t believe I’ve ever connected with time-pasted as I did in that moment. If I’d a proper understanding of the monetary denominations, I could have intelligently participated. Now, what to do with that…

    Reply
  18. Great post Nicola! I find myself fascinated by the many, many town festivities of the English. Where I live, we don’t seem to have any; unless one counts the re-enactment of Gettysburg during the first few (and often steamy) days of July, or the many local firefighters’ parades revolving round a paid carnival coming to town for fund-raising.
    Anyway, sad to say, I often feel more connected with England’s history than the history of the land upon which I live. Maybe that’s why Regency Romance tends to flourish in the US. That, and we (a portion of us anyway) instinctively know from whence we came. 🙂
    Nina (whose ancestral roots are in northern England)
    P.S. I watched Cranford (season 1, episode 4) last night, where the characters were attending a local estate auction. Talk about something that hasn’t changed one iota in the last hundred plus years. I don’t believe I’ve ever connected with time-pasted as I did in that moment. If I’d a proper understanding of the monetary denominations, I could have intelligently participated. Now, what to do with that…

    Reply
  19. Great post Nicola! I find myself fascinated by the many, many town festivities of the English. Where I live, we don’t seem to have any; unless one counts the re-enactment of Gettysburg during the first few (and often steamy) days of July, or the many local firefighters’ parades revolving round a paid carnival coming to town for fund-raising.
    Anyway, sad to say, I often feel more connected with England’s history than the history of the land upon which I live. Maybe that’s why Regency Romance tends to flourish in the US. That, and we (a portion of us anyway) instinctively know from whence we came. 🙂
    Nina (whose ancestral roots are in northern England)
    P.S. I watched Cranford (season 1, episode 4) last night, where the characters were attending a local estate auction. Talk about something that hasn’t changed one iota in the last hundred plus years. I don’t believe I’ve ever connected with time-pasted as I did in that moment. If I’d a proper understanding of the monetary denominations, I could have intelligently participated. Now, what to do with that…

    Reply
  20. Great post Nicola! I find myself fascinated by the many, many town festivities of the English. Where I live, we don’t seem to have any; unless one counts the re-enactment of Gettysburg during the first few (and often steamy) days of July, or the many local firefighters’ parades revolving round a paid carnival coming to town for fund-raising.
    Anyway, sad to say, I often feel more connected with England’s history than the history of the land upon which I live. Maybe that’s why Regency Romance tends to flourish in the US. That, and we (a portion of us anyway) instinctively know from whence we came. 🙂
    Nina (whose ancestral roots are in northern England)
    P.S. I watched Cranford (season 1, episode 4) last night, where the characters were attending a local estate auction. Talk about something that hasn’t changed one iota in the last hundred plus years. I don’t believe I’ve ever connected with time-pasted as I did in that moment. If I’d a proper understanding of the monetary denominations, I could have intelligently participated. Now, what to do with that…

    Reply
  21. Burning the Bartle in Wenseydale, N. Yorks involves setting fire to an effigy in August close to St. Bartholowmew’s Day.
    Swan Upping is another activity well-worth viewing, in July, on the Thames. The cygnets are counted and checked for injury. The monarch, who owns the swans, never attends–or didn’t, until Her Majesty chose to do so last year. It takes place at Windsor, and elsewhere along the river…Marlow Lock in Bucks. is a good viewing spot.

    Reply
  22. Burning the Bartle in Wenseydale, N. Yorks involves setting fire to an effigy in August close to St. Bartholowmew’s Day.
    Swan Upping is another activity well-worth viewing, in July, on the Thames. The cygnets are counted and checked for injury. The monarch, who owns the swans, never attends–or didn’t, until Her Majesty chose to do so last year. It takes place at Windsor, and elsewhere along the river…Marlow Lock in Bucks. is a good viewing spot.

    Reply
  23. Burning the Bartle in Wenseydale, N. Yorks involves setting fire to an effigy in August close to St. Bartholowmew’s Day.
    Swan Upping is another activity well-worth viewing, in July, on the Thames. The cygnets are counted and checked for injury. The monarch, who owns the swans, never attends–or didn’t, until Her Majesty chose to do so last year. It takes place at Windsor, and elsewhere along the river…Marlow Lock in Bucks. is a good viewing spot.

    Reply
  24. Burning the Bartle in Wenseydale, N. Yorks involves setting fire to an effigy in August close to St. Bartholowmew’s Day.
    Swan Upping is another activity well-worth viewing, in July, on the Thames. The cygnets are counted and checked for injury. The monarch, who owns the swans, never attends–or didn’t, until Her Majesty chose to do so last year. It takes place at Windsor, and elsewhere along the river…Marlow Lock in Bucks. is a good viewing spot.

    Reply
  25. Burning the Bartle in Wenseydale, N. Yorks involves setting fire to an effigy in August close to St. Bartholowmew’s Day.
    Swan Upping is another activity well-worth viewing, in July, on the Thames. The cygnets are counted and checked for injury. The monarch, who owns the swans, never attends–or didn’t, until Her Majesty chose to do so last year. It takes place at Windsor, and elsewhere along the river…Marlow Lock in Bucks. is a good viewing spot.

    Reply
  26. Kim, I wondered where the phrase Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all came from. Now I know!
    I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, Kathy. Thank you! Yes, a nine foot green giant… definitely the forerunner of Shrek!

    Reply
  27. Kim, I wondered where the phrase Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all came from. Now I know!
    I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, Kathy. Thank you! Yes, a nine foot green giant… definitely the forerunner of Shrek!

    Reply
  28. Kim, I wondered where the phrase Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all came from. Now I know!
    I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, Kathy. Thank you! Yes, a nine foot green giant… definitely the forerunner of Shrek!

    Reply
  29. Kim, I wondered where the phrase Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all came from. Now I know!
    I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, Kathy. Thank you! Yes, a nine foot green giant… definitely the forerunner of Shrek!

    Reply
  30. Kim, I wondered where the phrase Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all came from. Now I know!
    I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, Kathy. Thank you! Yes, a nine foot green giant… definitely the forerunner of Shrek!

    Reply
  31. My mind is boggling over the coconut dancers, Margaret! I’ve never heard of that one. Nina, I’d like to see the Gettysburg re-enactment. I imagine that would be very stirring indeed. I’ve seen some English Civil War re-enactments and it was easy to get drawn into all the atmosphere and the spectacle they created.
    I love Cranford, Nina. It’s packed full of such wonderful characters and well-observed situations. And the dialogue is superb IMO.

    Reply
  32. My mind is boggling over the coconut dancers, Margaret! I’ve never heard of that one. Nina, I’d like to see the Gettysburg re-enactment. I imagine that would be very stirring indeed. I’ve seen some English Civil War re-enactments and it was easy to get drawn into all the atmosphere and the spectacle they created.
    I love Cranford, Nina. It’s packed full of such wonderful characters and well-observed situations. And the dialogue is superb IMO.

    Reply
  33. My mind is boggling over the coconut dancers, Margaret! I’ve never heard of that one. Nina, I’d like to see the Gettysburg re-enactment. I imagine that would be very stirring indeed. I’ve seen some English Civil War re-enactments and it was easy to get drawn into all the atmosphere and the spectacle they created.
    I love Cranford, Nina. It’s packed full of such wonderful characters and well-observed situations. And the dialogue is superb IMO.

    Reply
  34. My mind is boggling over the coconut dancers, Margaret! I’ve never heard of that one. Nina, I’d like to see the Gettysburg re-enactment. I imagine that would be very stirring indeed. I’ve seen some English Civil War re-enactments and it was easy to get drawn into all the atmosphere and the spectacle they created.
    I love Cranford, Nina. It’s packed full of such wonderful characters and well-observed situations. And the dialogue is superb IMO.

    Reply
  35. My mind is boggling over the coconut dancers, Margaret! I’ve never heard of that one. Nina, I’d like to see the Gettysburg re-enactment. I imagine that would be very stirring indeed. I’ve seen some English Civil War re-enactments and it was easy to get drawn into all the atmosphere and the spectacle they created.
    I love Cranford, Nina. It’s packed full of such wonderful characters and well-observed situations. And the dialogue is superb IMO.

    Reply
  36. We had the Michigan State Fair, the oldest state fair in the US until last year when it was cut for budget reasons. Very sad that. We do go however, to Caseville every year for the cheeseburger festival. A week long celebration of cheeseburgers culminating with a huge parade that multiplies the town’s population by 80 for that day. I don’t think I can really explain it, but here is a link:
    http://goo.gl/lVYr
    This goes to ABC-TV’s coverage last year. I hope the movie works. The parade is…bizarre! But loads of fun 🙂

    Reply
  37. We had the Michigan State Fair, the oldest state fair in the US until last year when it was cut for budget reasons. Very sad that. We do go however, to Caseville every year for the cheeseburger festival. A week long celebration of cheeseburgers culminating with a huge parade that multiplies the town’s population by 80 for that day. I don’t think I can really explain it, but here is a link:
    http://goo.gl/lVYr
    This goes to ABC-TV’s coverage last year. I hope the movie works. The parade is…bizarre! But loads of fun 🙂

    Reply
  38. We had the Michigan State Fair, the oldest state fair in the US until last year when it was cut for budget reasons. Very sad that. We do go however, to Caseville every year for the cheeseburger festival. A week long celebration of cheeseburgers culminating with a huge parade that multiplies the town’s population by 80 for that day. I don’t think I can really explain it, but here is a link:
    http://goo.gl/lVYr
    This goes to ABC-TV’s coverage last year. I hope the movie works. The parade is…bizarre! But loads of fun 🙂

    Reply
  39. We had the Michigan State Fair, the oldest state fair in the US until last year when it was cut for budget reasons. Very sad that. We do go however, to Caseville every year for the cheeseburger festival. A week long celebration of cheeseburgers culminating with a huge parade that multiplies the town’s population by 80 for that day. I don’t think I can really explain it, but here is a link:
    http://goo.gl/lVYr
    This goes to ABC-TV’s coverage last year. I hope the movie works. The parade is…bizarre! But loads of fun 🙂

    Reply
  40. We had the Michigan State Fair, the oldest state fair in the US until last year when it was cut for budget reasons. Very sad that. We do go however, to Caseville every year for the cheeseburger festival. A week long celebration of cheeseburgers culminating with a huge parade that multiplies the town’s population by 80 for that day. I don’t think I can really explain it, but here is a link:
    http://goo.gl/lVYr
    This goes to ABC-TV’s coverage last year. I hope the movie works. The parade is…bizarre! But loads of fun 🙂

    Reply
  41. Margaret, what a wonderful name “burning the Bartle is”! And Swan Upping too. Doing this blog has made me realise that not only are the traditions obscure and eccentric but so is the language that goes with them!

    Reply
  42. Margaret, what a wonderful name “burning the Bartle is”! And Swan Upping too. Doing this blog has made me realise that not only are the traditions obscure and eccentric but so is the language that goes with them!

    Reply
  43. Margaret, what a wonderful name “burning the Bartle is”! And Swan Upping too. Doing this blog has made me realise that not only are the traditions obscure and eccentric but so is the language that goes with them!

    Reply
  44. Margaret, what a wonderful name “burning the Bartle is”! And Swan Upping too. Doing this blog has made me realise that not only are the traditions obscure and eccentric but so is the language that goes with them!

    Reply
  45. Margaret, what a wonderful name “burning the Bartle is”! And Swan Upping too. Doing this blog has made me realise that not only are the traditions obscure and eccentric but so is the language that goes with them!

    Reply
  46. Theo, I would be the first person to sign up for the cheeseburger festival. What a great idea! But what a pity about the Michigan State Fair. I looked that up too and it sounded wonderful.

    Reply
  47. Theo, I would be the first person to sign up for the cheeseburger festival. What a great idea! But what a pity about the Michigan State Fair. I looked that up too and it sounded wonderful.

    Reply
  48. Theo, I would be the first person to sign up for the cheeseburger festival. What a great idea! But what a pity about the Michigan State Fair. I looked that up too and it sounded wonderful.

    Reply
  49. Theo, I would be the first person to sign up for the cheeseburger festival. What a great idea! But what a pity about the Michigan State Fair. I looked that up too and it sounded wonderful.

    Reply
  50. Theo, I would be the first person to sign up for the cheeseburger festival. What a great idea! But what a pity about the Michigan State Fair. I looked that up too and it sounded wonderful.

    Reply
  51. No more cheese rolling? Say it ain’t so! That particular race caught my imagination for some reason. I even mentioned it in a book I just turned in.
    Here, any excuse for a parade and people to get out together is a good one. We have a St Louis version of Mardis Gras (and a parade for costumed dogs) and St Pats Day and a host of others.
    It’s rather a retreat into small town village life, isn’t it? Every neighborhood should have a festival!

    Reply
  52. No more cheese rolling? Say it ain’t so! That particular race caught my imagination for some reason. I even mentioned it in a book I just turned in.
    Here, any excuse for a parade and people to get out together is a good one. We have a St Louis version of Mardis Gras (and a parade for costumed dogs) and St Pats Day and a host of others.
    It’s rather a retreat into small town village life, isn’t it? Every neighborhood should have a festival!

    Reply
  53. No more cheese rolling? Say it ain’t so! That particular race caught my imagination for some reason. I even mentioned it in a book I just turned in.
    Here, any excuse for a parade and people to get out together is a good one. We have a St Louis version of Mardis Gras (and a parade for costumed dogs) and St Pats Day and a host of others.
    It’s rather a retreat into small town village life, isn’t it? Every neighborhood should have a festival!

    Reply
  54. No more cheese rolling? Say it ain’t so! That particular race caught my imagination for some reason. I even mentioned it in a book I just turned in.
    Here, any excuse for a parade and people to get out together is a good one. We have a St Louis version of Mardis Gras (and a parade for costumed dogs) and St Pats Day and a host of others.
    It’s rather a retreat into small town village life, isn’t it? Every neighborhood should have a festival!

    Reply
  55. No more cheese rolling? Say it ain’t so! That particular race caught my imagination for some reason. I even mentioned it in a book I just turned in.
    Here, any excuse for a parade and people to get out together is a good one. We have a St Louis version of Mardis Gras (and a parade for costumed dogs) and St Pats Day and a host of others.
    It’s rather a retreat into small town village life, isn’t it? Every neighborhood should have a festival!

    Reply
  56. It’s not my favourite tradition and it is certainly not English, but we have a custom here in my corner of Austria called “Krampuslaufen”. A Krampus is a kind of devil, usually paired with St. Nikolaus who comes to reward the good children on December 6th. In local lore he is accompanied by a Krampus, who is there to punish the bad children. Anyway, men dress up as Krampus in the evening of the 5th of December, complete with masks, chains and switches, roam the streat and strike unsuspecting passers-bys…. in some regions the custom is more regulated, with fixed times when they are out and about, but in my hometown you just have to listen for the huge bells they usually carry and get away!

    Reply
  57. It’s not my favourite tradition and it is certainly not English, but we have a custom here in my corner of Austria called “Krampuslaufen”. A Krampus is a kind of devil, usually paired with St. Nikolaus who comes to reward the good children on December 6th. In local lore he is accompanied by a Krampus, who is there to punish the bad children. Anyway, men dress up as Krampus in the evening of the 5th of December, complete with masks, chains and switches, roam the streat and strike unsuspecting passers-bys…. in some regions the custom is more regulated, with fixed times when they are out and about, but in my hometown you just have to listen for the huge bells they usually carry and get away!

    Reply
  58. It’s not my favourite tradition and it is certainly not English, but we have a custom here in my corner of Austria called “Krampuslaufen”. A Krampus is a kind of devil, usually paired with St. Nikolaus who comes to reward the good children on December 6th. In local lore he is accompanied by a Krampus, who is there to punish the bad children. Anyway, men dress up as Krampus in the evening of the 5th of December, complete with masks, chains and switches, roam the streat and strike unsuspecting passers-bys…. in some regions the custom is more regulated, with fixed times when they are out and about, but in my hometown you just have to listen for the huge bells they usually carry and get away!

    Reply
  59. It’s not my favourite tradition and it is certainly not English, but we have a custom here in my corner of Austria called “Krampuslaufen”. A Krampus is a kind of devil, usually paired with St. Nikolaus who comes to reward the good children on December 6th. In local lore he is accompanied by a Krampus, who is there to punish the bad children. Anyway, men dress up as Krampus in the evening of the 5th of December, complete with masks, chains and switches, roam the streat and strike unsuspecting passers-bys…. in some regions the custom is more regulated, with fixed times when they are out and about, but in my hometown you just have to listen for the huge bells they usually carry and get away!

    Reply
  60. It’s not my favourite tradition and it is certainly not English, but we have a custom here in my corner of Austria called “Krampuslaufen”. A Krampus is a kind of devil, usually paired with St. Nikolaus who comes to reward the good children on December 6th. In local lore he is accompanied by a Krampus, who is there to punish the bad children. Anyway, men dress up as Krampus in the evening of the 5th of December, complete with masks, chains and switches, roam the streat and strike unsuspecting passers-bys…. in some regions the custom is more regulated, with fixed times when they are out and about, but in my hometown you just have to listen for the huge bells they usually carry and get away!

    Reply
  61. Yes, the loss of our fair is a very sad thing, but there are groups working together to try to bring it back. I hope they succeed.
    This isn’t a celebration, but do they tip cows in your part of the world? Just curious. My DH’s family comes from a very small town in PA and they used to tip cows on July 4th. I have no idea why.

    Reply
  62. Yes, the loss of our fair is a very sad thing, but there are groups working together to try to bring it back. I hope they succeed.
    This isn’t a celebration, but do they tip cows in your part of the world? Just curious. My DH’s family comes from a very small town in PA and they used to tip cows on July 4th. I have no idea why.

    Reply
  63. Yes, the loss of our fair is a very sad thing, but there are groups working together to try to bring it back. I hope they succeed.
    This isn’t a celebration, but do they tip cows in your part of the world? Just curious. My DH’s family comes from a very small town in PA and they used to tip cows on July 4th. I have no idea why.

    Reply
  64. Yes, the loss of our fair is a very sad thing, but there are groups working together to try to bring it back. I hope they succeed.
    This isn’t a celebration, but do they tip cows in your part of the world? Just curious. My DH’s family comes from a very small town in PA and they used to tip cows on July 4th. I have no idea why.

    Reply
  65. Yes, the loss of our fair is a very sad thing, but there are groups working together to try to bring it back. I hope they succeed.
    This isn’t a celebration, but do they tip cows in your part of the world? Just curious. My DH’s family comes from a very small town in PA and they used to tip cows on July 4th. I have no idea why.

    Reply
  66. Great post Nicola. I lived in Devon for 4 years but don’t remember the Hunting the Earl of Rone Festival. I do remember lots of cider tasting festivals though – powerful stuff!
    Close where I grew up was the Horn Dance at Abbotts Bromley. First performed in the 1200s and very exciting to watch. I love Morris Dancing it seems to be such a deep connection to history.
    One thing that is also dying out is the names of certain dates like the Wakes Week, Michelmass, sennight and fortnight.
    I also agree with your examples of atmospheric background writing – Daphne Du Maurier had my heart racing in her books but I could not stop reading. I went to Jamaica Inn just to relive Mary’s time there.

    Reply
  67. Great post Nicola. I lived in Devon for 4 years but don’t remember the Hunting the Earl of Rone Festival. I do remember lots of cider tasting festivals though – powerful stuff!
    Close where I grew up was the Horn Dance at Abbotts Bromley. First performed in the 1200s and very exciting to watch. I love Morris Dancing it seems to be such a deep connection to history.
    One thing that is also dying out is the names of certain dates like the Wakes Week, Michelmass, sennight and fortnight.
    I also agree with your examples of atmospheric background writing – Daphne Du Maurier had my heart racing in her books but I could not stop reading. I went to Jamaica Inn just to relive Mary’s time there.

    Reply
  68. Great post Nicola. I lived in Devon for 4 years but don’t remember the Hunting the Earl of Rone Festival. I do remember lots of cider tasting festivals though – powerful stuff!
    Close where I grew up was the Horn Dance at Abbotts Bromley. First performed in the 1200s and very exciting to watch. I love Morris Dancing it seems to be such a deep connection to history.
    One thing that is also dying out is the names of certain dates like the Wakes Week, Michelmass, sennight and fortnight.
    I also agree with your examples of atmospheric background writing – Daphne Du Maurier had my heart racing in her books but I could not stop reading. I went to Jamaica Inn just to relive Mary’s time there.

    Reply
  69. Great post Nicola. I lived in Devon for 4 years but don’t remember the Hunting the Earl of Rone Festival. I do remember lots of cider tasting festivals though – powerful stuff!
    Close where I grew up was the Horn Dance at Abbotts Bromley. First performed in the 1200s and very exciting to watch. I love Morris Dancing it seems to be such a deep connection to history.
    One thing that is also dying out is the names of certain dates like the Wakes Week, Michelmass, sennight and fortnight.
    I also agree with your examples of atmospheric background writing – Daphne Du Maurier had my heart racing in her books but I could not stop reading. I went to Jamaica Inn just to relive Mary’s time there.

    Reply
  70. Great post Nicola. I lived in Devon for 4 years but don’t remember the Hunting the Earl of Rone Festival. I do remember lots of cider tasting festivals though – powerful stuff!
    Close where I grew up was the Horn Dance at Abbotts Bromley. First performed in the 1200s and very exciting to watch. I love Morris Dancing it seems to be such a deep connection to history.
    One thing that is also dying out is the names of certain dates like the Wakes Week, Michelmass, sennight and fortnight.
    I also agree with your examples of atmospheric background writing – Daphne Du Maurier had my heart racing in her books but I could not stop reading. I went to Jamaica Inn just to relive Mary’s time there.

    Reply
  71. Oh how fabulous that you put the cheese-rolling in a book, Pat! Apparently the event is so popular now that they were worried about crowd control, which was why the Gloucester event was cancelled. But elsewhere, such as Stilton, the cheese rolling is still going strong (sorry for the pun!)

    Reply
  72. Oh how fabulous that you put the cheese-rolling in a book, Pat! Apparently the event is so popular now that they were worried about crowd control, which was why the Gloucester event was cancelled. But elsewhere, such as Stilton, the cheese rolling is still going strong (sorry for the pun!)

    Reply
  73. Oh how fabulous that you put the cheese-rolling in a book, Pat! Apparently the event is so popular now that they were worried about crowd control, which was why the Gloucester event was cancelled. But elsewhere, such as Stilton, the cheese rolling is still going strong (sorry for the pun!)

    Reply
  74. Oh how fabulous that you put the cheese-rolling in a book, Pat! Apparently the event is so popular now that they were worried about crowd control, which was why the Gloucester event was cancelled. But elsewhere, such as Stilton, the cheese rolling is still going strong (sorry for the pun!)

    Reply
  75. Oh how fabulous that you put the cheese-rolling in a book, Pat! Apparently the event is so popular now that they were worried about crowd control, which was why the Gloucester event was cancelled. But elsewhere, such as Stilton, the cheese rolling is still going strong (sorry for the pun!)

    Reply
  76. Gosh, Liz, the Krampuslaufen sounds quite frightening! I’m intrigued by the strains of violence there are in so many of these traditions from the UK and abroad. These days there is a police presence at the events in the UK but you can see how in the past they could develop into something dangerous.

    Reply
  77. Gosh, Liz, the Krampuslaufen sounds quite frightening! I’m intrigued by the strains of violence there are in so many of these traditions from the UK and abroad. These days there is a police presence at the events in the UK but you can see how in the past they could develop into something dangerous.

    Reply
  78. Gosh, Liz, the Krampuslaufen sounds quite frightening! I’m intrigued by the strains of violence there are in so many of these traditions from the UK and abroad. These days there is a police presence at the events in the UK but you can see how in the past they could develop into something dangerous.

    Reply
  79. Gosh, Liz, the Krampuslaufen sounds quite frightening! I’m intrigued by the strains of violence there are in so many of these traditions from the UK and abroad. These days there is a police presence at the events in the UK but you can see how in the past they could develop into something dangerous.

    Reply
  80. Gosh, Liz, the Krampuslaufen sounds quite frightening! I’m intrigued by the strains of violence there are in so many of these traditions from the UK and abroad. These days there is a police presence at the events in the UK but you can see how in the past they could develop into something dangerous.

    Reply
  81. I hadn’t heard of cow-tipping, Theo, and when I looked it up I read that in the UK at least it was a myth, which made me quite relieved!
    Sue, that is very interesting about certain words dying out as well as certain customs. I’ve never come across Senninght other than in the pages of a Regency book. Fortnight is still going strong but Michaelmas is restricted to the church and the terms at university! I love hearing people use the “old” words and language. My grandmother used to say “doing it too brown” which gave me a shiver as it felt as though it was straight from the pages of Heyer!

    Reply
  82. I hadn’t heard of cow-tipping, Theo, and when I looked it up I read that in the UK at least it was a myth, which made me quite relieved!
    Sue, that is very interesting about certain words dying out as well as certain customs. I’ve never come across Senninght other than in the pages of a Regency book. Fortnight is still going strong but Michaelmas is restricted to the church and the terms at university! I love hearing people use the “old” words and language. My grandmother used to say “doing it too brown” which gave me a shiver as it felt as though it was straight from the pages of Heyer!

    Reply
  83. I hadn’t heard of cow-tipping, Theo, and when I looked it up I read that in the UK at least it was a myth, which made me quite relieved!
    Sue, that is very interesting about certain words dying out as well as certain customs. I’ve never come across Senninght other than in the pages of a Regency book. Fortnight is still going strong but Michaelmas is restricted to the church and the terms at university! I love hearing people use the “old” words and language. My grandmother used to say “doing it too brown” which gave me a shiver as it felt as though it was straight from the pages of Heyer!

    Reply
  84. I hadn’t heard of cow-tipping, Theo, and when I looked it up I read that in the UK at least it was a myth, which made me quite relieved!
    Sue, that is very interesting about certain words dying out as well as certain customs. I’ve never come across Senninght other than in the pages of a Regency book. Fortnight is still going strong but Michaelmas is restricted to the church and the terms at university! I love hearing people use the “old” words and language. My grandmother used to say “doing it too brown” which gave me a shiver as it felt as though it was straight from the pages of Heyer!

    Reply
  85. I hadn’t heard of cow-tipping, Theo, and when I looked it up I read that in the UK at least it was a myth, which made me quite relieved!
    Sue, that is very interesting about certain words dying out as well as certain customs. I’ve never come across Senninght other than in the pages of a Regency book. Fortnight is still going strong but Michaelmas is restricted to the church and the terms at university! I love hearing people use the “old” words and language. My grandmother used to say “doing it too brown” which gave me a shiver as it felt as though it was straight from the pages of Heyer!

    Reply
  86. ;o) Yes, they do celebrate it, but to my knowledge, no one has ever tipped a cow. They chase them, push them, even try coaxing them to lay down so they can claim victory, but I think in all the years they’ve been doing it, they’ve not tipped one cow. Many, many beers and other alcoholic beverages have been tipped in pursuit of the perfect cow to try tipping, but so far, no luck.

    Reply
  87. ;o) Yes, they do celebrate it, but to my knowledge, no one has ever tipped a cow. They chase them, push them, even try coaxing them to lay down so they can claim victory, but I think in all the years they’ve been doing it, they’ve not tipped one cow. Many, many beers and other alcoholic beverages have been tipped in pursuit of the perfect cow to try tipping, but so far, no luck.

    Reply
  88. ;o) Yes, they do celebrate it, but to my knowledge, no one has ever tipped a cow. They chase them, push them, even try coaxing them to lay down so they can claim victory, but I think in all the years they’ve been doing it, they’ve not tipped one cow. Many, many beers and other alcoholic beverages have been tipped in pursuit of the perfect cow to try tipping, but so far, no luck.

    Reply
  89. ;o) Yes, they do celebrate it, but to my knowledge, no one has ever tipped a cow. They chase them, push them, even try coaxing them to lay down so they can claim victory, but I think in all the years they’ve been doing it, they’ve not tipped one cow. Many, many beers and other alcoholic beverages have been tipped in pursuit of the perfect cow to try tipping, but so far, no luck.

    Reply
  90. ;o) Yes, they do celebrate it, but to my knowledge, no one has ever tipped a cow. They chase them, push them, even try coaxing them to lay down so they can claim victory, but I think in all the years they’ve been doing it, they’ve not tipped one cow. Many, many beers and other alcoholic beverages have been tipped in pursuit of the perfect cow to try tipping, but so far, no luck.

    Reply
  91. What a fun and informative post, Nicola, and thanks for the heads-up on the “England In Particular ” book. I love learning about a custom or tradition in the course of a story, though as you say, it must be woven well into the story and not just a research “dump.”
    We don’t have that many local color traditions in my part of the country . . . though one very dramatic NYC event is the anuual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. It has become quite a happening, and could make a great setting for a romance—-or murder mystery.

    Reply
  92. What a fun and informative post, Nicola, and thanks for the heads-up on the “England In Particular ” book. I love learning about a custom or tradition in the course of a story, though as you say, it must be woven well into the story and not just a research “dump.”
    We don’t have that many local color traditions in my part of the country . . . though one very dramatic NYC event is the anuual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. It has become quite a happening, and could make a great setting for a romance—-or murder mystery.

    Reply
  93. What a fun and informative post, Nicola, and thanks for the heads-up on the “England In Particular ” book. I love learning about a custom or tradition in the course of a story, though as you say, it must be woven well into the story and not just a research “dump.”
    We don’t have that many local color traditions in my part of the country . . . though one very dramatic NYC event is the anuual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. It has become quite a happening, and could make a great setting for a romance—-or murder mystery.

    Reply
  94. What a fun and informative post, Nicola, and thanks for the heads-up on the “England In Particular ” book. I love learning about a custom or tradition in the course of a story, though as you say, it must be woven well into the story and not just a research “dump.”
    We don’t have that many local color traditions in my part of the country . . . though one very dramatic NYC event is the anuual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. It has become quite a happening, and could make a great setting for a romance—-or murder mystery.

    Reply
  95. What a fun and informative post, Nicola, and thanks for the heads-up on the “England In Particular ” book. I love learning about a custom or tradition in the course of a story, though as you say, it must be woven well into the story and not just a research “dump.”
    We don’t have that many local color traditions in my part of the country . . . though one very dramatic NYC event is the anuual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. It has become quite a happening, and could make a great setting for a romance—-or murder mystery.

    Reply
  96. From Sherrie.
    Nicola, this is one of my favorite subjects! I love those odd and bizarre small-town (and large) festivals. Your post sent me to YouTube where I typed “Cheese rolling Gloucester” in their search engine and then spent an hour laughing my head off over the videos of people running/tumbling/bouncing down the incredibly steep hill after the cheese. Some of the costumes (or lack thereof) were hysterical.
    Over here in the U.S. we have our share of odd festivals. In California there’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival (garlic ice cream, anyone? chocolate covered garlic?). In Montana there’s the Testicle Festival (how about deep fried testicles with a side of dipping sauce?). In Seattle we have 6-week-long Seafair Festival, complete with milk carton derby, boat shows, hydroplane races, torchlight parade, etc. Throughout it all we have the famous Seafair Pirates who run into the crowds and “abduct” women and throw candy to children. In my hometown area we have the annual Seagull Calling Competition, where folks dress up in costumes and, using their own unique “calls,” try to lure seagulls to eat Cheetos and potato chips from their hands. It is deadly serious, and the calls are judged by a panel of “experts.” *g*
    My tiny (population: 3,000) rural hometown of Olalla, WA, hosts one of the nation’s largest Polar Bear Plunges every January 1. I used to jump off the bridge into the frigid Olalla Bay with 2,000 other idiots, often in costume. Long live festivals in all their weirdness and fun!

    Reply
  97. From Sherrie.
    Nicola, this is one of my favorite subjects! I love those odd and bizarre small-town (and large) festivals. Your post sent me to YouTube where I typed “Cheese rolling Gloucester” in their search engine and then spent an hour laughing my head off over the videos of people running/tumbling/bouncing down the incredibly steep hill after the cheese. Some of the costumes (or lack thereof) were hysterical.
    Over here in the U.S. we have our share of odd festivals. In California there’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival (garlic ice cream, anyone? chocolate covered garlic?). In Montana there’s the Testicle Festival (how about deep fried testicles with a side of dipping sauce?). In Seattle we have 6-week-long Seafair Festival, complete with milk carton derby, boat shows, hydroplane races, torchlight parade, etc. Throughout it all we have the famous Seafair Pirates who run into the crowds and “abduct” women and throw candy to children. In my hometown area we have the annual Seagull Calling Competition, where folks dress up in costumes and, using their own unique “calls,” try to lure seagulls to eat Cheetos and potato chips from their hands. It is deadly serious, and the calls are judged by a panel of “experts.” *g*
    My tiny (population: 3,000) rural hometown of Olalla, WA, hosts one of the nation’s largest Polar Bear Plunges every January 1. I used to jump off the bridge into the frigid Olalla Bay with 2,000 other idiots, often in costume. Long live festivals in all their weirdness and fun!

    Reply
  98. From Sherrie.
    Nicola, this is one of my favorite subjects! I love those odd and bizarre small-town (and large) festivals. Your post sent me to YouTube where I typed “Cheese rolling Gloucester” in their search engine and then spent an hour laughing my head off over the videos of people running/tumbling/bouncing down the incredibly steep hill after the cheese. Some of the costumes (or lack thereof) were hysterical.
    Over here in the U.S. we have our share of odd festivals. In California there’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival (garlic ice cream, anyone? chocolate covered garlic?). In Montana there’s the Testicle Festival (how about deep fried testicles with a side of dipping sauce?). In Seattle we have 6-week-long Seafair Festival, complete with milk carton derby, boat shows, hydroplane races, torchlight parade, etc. Throughout it all we have the famous Seafair Pirates who run into the crowds and “abduct” women and throw candy to children. In my hometown area we have the annual Seagull Calling Competition, where folks dress up in costumes and, using their own unique “calls,” try to lure seagulls to eat Cheetos and potato chips from their hands. It is deadly serious, and the calls are judged by a panel of “experts.” *g*
    My tiny (population: 3,000) rural hometown of Olalla, WA, hosts one of the nation’s largest Polar Bear Plunges every January 1. I used to jump off the bridge into the frigid Olalla Bay with 2,000 other idiots, often in costume. Long live festivals in all their weirdness and fun!

    Reply
  99. From Sherrie.
    Nicola, this is one of my favorite subjects! I love those odd and bizarre small-town (and large) festivals. Your post sent me to YouTube where I typed “Cheese rolling Gloucester” in their search engine and then spent an hour laughing my head off over the videos of people running/tumbling/bouncing down the incredibly steep hill after the cheese. Some of the costumes (or lack thereof) were hysterical.
    Over here in the U.S. we have our share of odd festivals. In California there’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival (garlic ice cream, anyone? chocolate covered garlic?). In Montana there’s the Testicle Festival (how about deep fried testicles with a side of dipping sauce?). In Seattle we have 6-week-long Seafair Festival, complete with milk carton derby, boat shows, hydroplane races, torchlight parade, etc. Throughout it all we have the famous Seafair Pirates who run into the crowds and “abduct” women and throw candy to children. In my hometown area we have the annual Seagull Calling Competition, where folks dress up in costumes and, using their own unique “calls,” try to lure seagulls to eat Cheetos and potato chips from their hands. It is deadly serious, and the calls are judged by a panel of “experts.” *g*
    My tiny (population: 3,000) rural hometown of Olalla, WA, hosts one of the nation’s largest Polar Bear Plunges every January 1. I used to jump off the bridge into the frigid Olalla Bay with 2,000 other idiots, often in costume. Long live festivals in all their weirdness and fun!

    Reply
  100. From Sherrie.
    Nicola, this is one of my favorite subjects! I love those odd and bizarre small-town (and large) festivals. Your post sent me to YouTube where I typed “Cheese rolling Gloucester” in their search engine and then spent an hour laughing my head off over the videos of people running/tumbling/bouncing down the incredibly steep hill after the cheese. Some of the costumes (or lack thereof) were hysterical.
    Over here in the U.S. we have our share of odd festivals. In California there’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival (garlic ice cream, anyone? chocolate covered garlic?). In Montana there’s the Testicle Festival (how about deep fried testicles with a side of dipping sauce?). In Seattle we have 6-week-long Seafair Festival, complete with milk carton derby, boat shows, hydroplane races, torchlight parade, etc. Throughout it all we have the famous Seafair Pirates who run into the crowds and “abduct” women and throw candy to children. In my hometown area we have the annual Seagull Calling Competition, where folks dress up in costumes and, using their own unique “calls,” try to lure seagulls to eat Cheetos and potato chips from their hands. It is deadly serious, and the calls are judged by a panel of “experts.” *g*
    My tiny (population: 3,000) rural hometown of Olalla, WA, hosts one of the nation’s largest Polar Bear Plunges every January 1. I used to jump off the bridge into the frigid Olalla Bay with 2,000 other idiots, often in costume. Long live festivals in all their weirdness and fun!

    Reply
  101. May is just around the corner and here in Indianapolis there are all manner of traditions revolving around the 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Still, I think cheese-rolling and well-dressing sound better than Carburation Day. The best festivals here in Indiana are usually in small towns. But both England and the U.S. have great traditions associated with universities- think of homecoming and graduation celebrations.

    Reply
  102. May is just around the corner and here in Indianapolis there are all manner of traditions revolving around the 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Still, I think cheese-rolling and well-dressing sound better than Carburation Day. The best festivals here in Indiana are usually in small towns. But both England and the U.S. have great traditions associated with universities- think of homecoming and graduation celebrations.

    Reply
  103. May is just around the corner and here in Indianapolis there are all manner of traditions revolving around the 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Still, I think cheese-rolling and well-dressing sound better than Carburation Day. The best festivals here in Indiana are usually in small towns. But both England and the U.S. have great traditions associated with universities- think of homecoming and graduation celebrations.

    Reply
  104. May is just around the corner and here in Indianapolis there are all manner of traditions revolving around the 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Still, I think cheese-rolling and well-dressing sound better than Carburation Day. The best festivals here in Indiana are usually in small towns. But both England and the U.S. have great traditions associated with universities- think of homecoming and graduation celebrations.

    Reply
  105. May is just around the corner and here in Indianapolis there are all manner of traditions revolving around the 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Still, I think cheese-rolling and well-dressing sound better than Carburation Day. The best festivals here in Indiana are usually in small towns. But both England and the U.S. have great traditions associated with universities- think of homecoming and graduation celebrations.

    Reply
  106. The annual Halloween parade sounds a gift for a romance or murder mystery, Cara. I’m going a little gothic in my current book and I like that idea!
    Sherrie, I’m so pleased you liked the cheese rolling and thank you for the heads up on all those amazing festivals. The garlic one sounds rather fun – potential for a new culinary experience – but I think I’d give the testicle dipping a miss! I do admire you very much for the Polar Bear Plunge!!

    Reply
  107. The annual Halloween parade sounds a gift for a romance or murder mystery, Cara. I’m going a little gothic in my current book and I like that idea!
    Sherrie, I’m so pleased you liked the cheese rolling and thank you for the heads up on all those amazing festivals. The garlic one sounds rather fun – potential for a new culinary experience – but I think I’d give the testicle dipping a miss! I do admire you very much for the Polar Bear Plunge!!

    Reply
  108. The annual Halloween parade sounds a gift for a romance or murder mystery, Cara. I’m going a little gothic in my current book and I like that idea!
    Sherrie, I’m so pleased you liked the cheese rolling and thank you for the heads up on all those amazing festivals. The garlic one sounds rather fun – potential for a new culinary experience – but I think I’d give the testicle dipping a miss! I do admire you very much for the Polar Bear Plunge!!

    Reply
  109. The annual Halloween parade sounds a gift for a romance or murder mystery, Cara. I’m going a little gothic in my current book and I like that idea!
    Sherrie, I’m so pleased you liked the cheese rolling and thank you for the heads up on all those amazing festivals. The garlic one sounds rather fun – potential for a new culinary experience – but I think I’d give the testicle dipping a miss! I do admire you very much for the Polar Bear Plunge!!

    Reply
  110. The annual Halloween parade sounds a gift for a romance or murder mystery, Cara. I’m going a little gothic in my current book and I like that idea!
    Sherrie, I’m so pleased you liked the cheese rolling and thank you for the heads up on all those amazing festivals. The garlic one sounds rather fun – potential for a new culinary experience – but I think I’d give the testicle dipping a miss! I do admire you very much for the Polar Bear Plunge!!

    Reply
  111. Gretchen, yes, the traditions around universities are very arcane and interesting. Here in Oxford they had to ban the traditional leaping off the bridge into the river Isis because people were getting hurt. A lot of these customs are exclusive to the initiated – all part of reinforcing the idea of how special it is to be a student LOL!

    Reply
  112. Gretchen, yes, the traditions around universities are very arcane and interesting. Here in Oxford they had to ban the traditional leaping off the bridge into the river Isis because people were getting hurt. A lot of these customs are exclusive to the initiated – all part of reinforcing the idea of how special it is to be a student LOL!

    Reply
  113. Gretchen, yes, the traditions around universities are very arcane and interesting. Here in Oxford they had to ban the traditional leaping off the bridge into the river Isis because people were getting hurt. A lot of these customs are exclusive to the initiated – all part of reinforcing the idea of how special it is to be a student LOL!

    Reply
  114. Gretchen, yes, the traditions around universities are very arcane and interesting. Here in Oxford they had to ban the traditional leaping off the bridge into the river Isis because people were getting hurt. A lot of these customs are exclusive to the initiated – all part of reinforcing the idea of how special it is to be a student LOL!

    Reply
  115. Gretchen, yes, the traditions around universities are very arcane and interesting. Here in Oxford they had to ban the traditional leaping off the bridge into the river Isis because people were getting hurt. A lot of these customs are exclusive to the initiated – all part of reinforcing the idea of how special it is to be a student LOL!

    Reply
  116. Wonderful post, Nicola, between your post and the comments there’s a fantastic assortment of festivals there.
    Here we have a festival called Moomba, which we were brought up to believe was an indigenous aboriginal word meaning “lets get together and have fun’ but which turns out to be more like “up yours” — a comment on the way the civic officials were regarded by the local aborigines at the time. LOL

    Reply
  117. Wonderful post, Nicola, between your post and the comments there’s a fantastic assortment of festivals there.
    Here we have a festival called Moomba, which we were brought up to believe was an indigenous aboriginal word meaning “lets get together and have fun’ but which turns out to be more like “up yours” — a comment on the way the civic officials were regarded by the local aborigines at the time. LOL

    Reply
  118. Wonderful post, Nicola, between your post and the comments there’s a fantastic assortment of festivals there.
    Here we have a festival called Moomba, which we were brought up to believe was an indigenous aboriginal word meaning “lets get together and have fun’ but which turns out to be more like “up yours” — a comment on the way the civic officials were regarded by the local aborigines at the time. LOL

    Reply
  119. Wonderful post, Nicola, between your post and the comments there’s a fantastic assortment of festivals there.
    Here we have a festival called Moomba, which we were brought up to believe was an indigenous aboriginal word meaning “lets get together and have fun’ but which turns out to be more like “up yours” — a comment on the way the civic officials were regarded by the local aborigines at the time. LOL

    Reply
  120. Wonderful post, Nicola, between your post and the comments there’s a fantastic assortment of festivals there.
    Here we have a festival called Moomba, which we were brought up to believe was an indigenous aboriginal word meaning “lets get together and have fun’ but which turns out to be more like “up yours” — a comment on the way the civic officials were regarded by the local aborigines at the time. LOL

    Reply
  121. Oh, that is very funny, Anne! Have just looked up the Moomba festival. Looks like fun!
    When we lived in Somerset I loved the carnivals. This was partly because they were held in the autumn and really lit up the dark evenings and partly because as Sue mentioned, there was always a barn dance -and some serious cider to be consumed!

    Reply
  122. Oh, that is very funny, Anne! Have just looked up the Moomba festival. Looks like fun!
    When we lived in Somerset I loved the carnivals. This was partly because they were held in the autumn and really lit up the dark evenings and partly because as Sue mentioned, there was always a barn dance -and some serious cider to be consumed!

    Reply
  123. Oh, that is very funny, Anne! Have just looked up the Moomba festival. Looks like fun!
    When we lived in Somerset I loved the carnivals. This was partly because they were held in the autumn and really lit up the dark evenings and partly because as Sue mentioned, there was always a barn dance -and some serious cider to be consumed!

    Reply
  124. Oh, that is very funny, Anne! Have just looked up the Moomba festival. Looks like fun!
    When we lived in Somerset I loved the carnivals. This was partly because they were held in the autumn and really lit up the dark evenings and partly because as Sue mentioned, there was always a barn dance -and some serious cider to be consumed!

    Reply
  125. Oh, that is very funny, Anne! Have just looked up the Moomba festival. Looks like fun!
    When we lived in Somerset I loved the carnivals. This was partly because they were held in the autumn and really lit up the dark evenings and partly because as Sue mentioned, there was always a barn dance -and some serious cider to be consumed!

    Reply

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