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Blackcat2 need info about 'Wrenning' (40) RE: need info about 'Wrenning' 28 Dec 99

Greetings all.

Thank you for the info - here's what I wrote for the service - I also had a holly bush decorated with ribbons and a wren (ceramic) on top of a staff and sang a version of the "Wren Song" and told the story of how the wren got to be the king of all birds (this I told to the kids in the special part of the service devoted to them) ______________

Before dawn, on this, the day after Christmas, St. Stephens Day, young boys gather in small groups all over the South West of Ireland. They are known as the Wren Boys and their activities on this day are as dramatic as they are ancient. They gather together and go into the hills above town and kill or capture a wee bird called the wren. The Wren Boys place the little bird on a holly bush that is festooned with ribbons and placed on the top of a pole. They take the holly bush from house to house in their town and on each doorstep sing "The Wren Song." Their purpose is to collect money for the wren's wake and burial. For the most part, they travel at a frantic pace - singing the song as quickly as possible to each household so that they may collect as much money as they can. To give the Wren Boys a bit of coin is to ensure good luck for the house in the upcoming year. Much like trick or treating, the Wrenning is eagerly looked forward to by the boys. The South West has always been a poor area, and in the past Christmas morning rarely brought presents, while the fun, camaraderie and pennies collected by the Wren Boys afforded them a true celebration.

It's a tradition that has been followed for hundreds of years and is connected to an element of the ancient practice of regicide - sacrificing the king to ensure the return of the Sun at Yuletide. Killing the wren satisfies this because in Celtic mythology, the wren is known as the king of all birds. The Wren Boys, in following this ancient tradition, continue an element of the human experience that celebrates the memory or their, and likewise, our ancestors.

Apart from the fact that the activities of the Wren Boys happened earlier today, why am I telling you this? Well, like many of us, instead of inheriting traditions from my parents and engaging in community rituals, I grew up learning that activities such as those in which the Wren Boys participate were quaint and backward. In adulthood, I have learned that these traditions are actually important for a myriad of reasons. They build community; they give everyone a position and task within the community; they remind people of the past and help them to look forward to the future. That's why I study the past. It's also one of the reasons I attend this church. For to find tradition, looking backward is not a requirement. Looking to the future and creating your own traditions is just as good. So now, please join me in one of our favorite traditions - the lighting of the chalice. In the light of truth, and in the warmth of love, we gather to seek, to sustain and to share. _____________

thanks again everyone.


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