Over on Twitter, my social medium of choice (I've never really got my head around Facebook, so my presence there is a bit vague and sporadic), one of the things that I like to do is to tweet little bits of Lincolnshire folklore. Being Lincolnshire-born, and having spent the bulk of my life in the county, it only seems right to repay the county with a little bit of attention.
So what I'll do every month, at the end of the month in question, is to round up the tweets I've published under the hashtag #LincsLore.
The bulk of these are sourced from A Lincolnshire Calendar, by Maureen Sutton. The book's well worth tracking down if you've an interest in the area. And in the area, if you what I mean.
Doubtless some of these rituals, notable dates, traditions and other assorted bits of arcana have parallels in other parts of the country. Some, though, are particular to Lincolnshire, a county that guards its particularities well to this day. And, as a writer, you never know when a concept or a practice might pop up that makes you think "There's a story in that"...
Anyway, here we go with January:
New Year. It's unlucky to do laundry at New Year. "If you wash on New Year's Day, you'll wash one of the family away".
The "robin dinner"; a New Year charity-funded feast for the poor. A parade, free music hall/cinema too. Lincoln, until 1930s.
5th Jan. Shooting the trees. At Twelfth Night, shoot apple trees to encourage the sap to flow, and so a good crop.
Twelfth night. Take down evergreen and mistletoe trimmings. Holly represents Jesus' crown of thorns; burning it is bad luck.
Twelfth night. Save a piece of Christmas holly to burn on Shrove Tuesday; use it to light the fire you cook your pancakes with.
Twelfth night. Plant holly at your boundaries. It's bad luck to those who seek to cut it down and so interfere with your land.
Twelfth night. If you burn holly in your house you'll stir up the spirits and they'll stay in your house all year.
Twelfth night. "Dorcas" charities gave coats to widows this time of year, as in the Bible: Acts 9:39
Twelfth night. Or, "Old Christmas", if you're not down with the newfangled Gregorian calendar.
6th Jan. Haxey Hood. An annual match; a cross between quidditch, rugby, and a beer-fuelled riot.
The first Sunday after Twelfth Night is Plough Sunday. The plough is cleaned, oiled and take to church for its blessing.
Plough Monday (1st after Twelfth Night): ploughboys parade the decorated plough round the village; rewards of food and drink
The Plough Light. Carried with the plough on its tour round villages; paid for by ploughboys and kept in the church all year.
Jan 20. St Agnes' Eve. Sow a handful of barley seeds under an apple tree, and you'll have a vision of your future husband.
There's more about the Haxey Hood, including photos from this year's event, here.