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Lifting


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An Easter calendar custom found all over the Midlands and the North, but not reported further south than Worcestershire. The custom involved men, on Easter Monday, claiming the privilege of physically lifting off the ground any females they might meet, and on Easter Tuesday the females lifting the men, and only by payment of a fine, or in some cases a kiss, could one escape. In some places a chair decorated with ribbons was carried about for the purpose. Published descriptions vary from the deferential and good-humoured to the rough-and-ready horseplay of labouring men and women, and the latter caused the custom to be viewed with disfavour by magistrates and other local dignitaries. The earliest known reference is in Gentleman's Magazine (1784, part I: 96) but the custom does not seem to have survived past the middle of the 19th century. Most writers assert that the lifting represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but apart from the time of year there seems to be no reason to believe this. Illustrations of the custom appear in Hone, 1827: i. 212 and L&L 3:2B (1980) 81; W. Crooke, ‘The Lifting of the Bride’, Folk-Lore 13 (1902), 226–51, describes this and other lifting, carrying, bumping customs.


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