Wren Day (Commentor Raven sent me down a YouTube wormhole on an earlier thread). Whenever the Aould Folks or my mother the incorrigible ‘history buff’ would wax nostalgic about some quaint folk custom like the above, my Manhattan-born dad would say “Aren’t you kids glad for television, so we don’t have to ‘make our own fun’ anymore?”
Today, he’d substitute ‘the internet’ for ‘television’, but you see the idea. In my heart I suspect a lot of these Ancient Midwinter Rituals from the Unknowable Past, for all it was important to ritually remind the Sun ‘to stop lurking along the horizon and do a proper day’s work again’, were also about giving the young folk something to do after the last of the harvest until the days started lengthening. Making one’s festival costume, recruiting a gang, planning a dance routine that wouldn’t shame you in front of those bogtrotters from the other side of the hill — and then, you’d have memories of the event to talk about for the ensuing three months of short rations and close quarters.
(And, yes, Steeleye Span’s “The King” is a wrenboy song.)
Love Steeleye Span!
What in heck was that? Build the dang fence, a’ready!
Rustam Fateh Ali Khan – Tori Chab and Kalenin Burcu Muyam
Uh huh. As if Manhattan wasn’t the birthplace of the modern New Years and Christmas celebrations and Festivus. NYC has had no shortage of their own fun-making.
Orelha Negra – A Memória
The Mongrelettes – Mon Mec A Moi
Irish kids had another holiday, it may have been Wren Day but I forget when it took place exactly. You would go kill a wren then take it door-to-door asking for money so you could have a funeral for the bird which you displayed on your travels.It was accompanied with singing & drinking (but then again what wasn’t in the Auld Kuntry?)
Tommy Makem used to sing a song about the festival.
Luise Pop – Fat Yellow Moon
French titles? Ma Belle Amie (a one hit wonder by a Dutch group back in the vinyl age).
Oscar Brown, Jr. – Hymn to Friday
Like your Dutch fellow, The Mongrelettes are not actually French…they’re Greek.
Here’s another Greekster I like to spin every now and again:
Marietta Fafouti – The Girl Who Loved the Rain
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Dat Dere
Getting back to things French, this would probably be my pick for album of the year:
La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin
It’s fun to wake up and see you got some action!
This book talks about Dickens and modern Christmas:
The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits
@wasabi gasp: These guys love it. . .
There’s a wren song on The Chieftans’ Bells of Dublin, but I didn’t know the history of it.
My father grew up in Galway, this sounds very much like what he described. Also, when I was a Duran Duran fan in the early 80s, every time he heard their name he’d sing “oh, de wren, oh de wren, he’s the king of the birds”
Anne Laurie, you’re in the Boston area, right? Have you ever been to the Christmas Revels in Cambridge? I go to the one in Oakland every year. They put on a different show every year, featuring Christmas/Solstice/Yule traditions of a different place or time. This year’s California Revels was set at Haddon Hall in Darbyshire.
Love Steeleye Span.
I saw them open for Jethro Tull in Kansas City some time in the 1970s. It was excruciating. I have no idea why I went to that.
Mumming freaks me the fuck out. When I first moved to Philly, I was having a smoke in my now-wife’s apartment early on Jan 1 and I said “Why does Philadelphia have Gay Pride on New Year’s Day?” She couldn’t believe I’d never seen straight (drunk) union pipefitters dressed in sparkles, makeup, and feathered headdresses walking in a parade. It’s still exceptionally odd to me.
@gogol’s wife: I saw them together at the Forum in LA on that tour. 1973?
I really enjoyed that concert. But Steeleye Span was best in small clubs, like the Troubadour.
Yes, hockey arena wasn’t probably the best choice. Before the concert, a guy came out and said, “Someone has stolen one of Steeleye Span’s costumes!” It was surreal. That’s what I remember most vividly.
Getting my pick knocked down to honorable mention sounds like a great late Christmas present. Hit me with some links.
Maybe leave the lame stream mediums out of it, though.
The Boys of Barna Straide…hunting for the wren.