Mudcat Café message #2206315 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106626   Message #2206315
Posted By: Jack Blandiver
01-Dec-07 - 12:26 PM
Thread Name: Songs for the Winter Solstice
Subject: RE: Songs for the Winter Solstice
Jollity & General Merriment are part & parcel of human nature; as are the tendencies towards sinful behaviour & licentiousness - so not so much Traditional, rather defining attributes, if you like, of our humanity and one which The Christian Church, for obvious reasons, was wary of in its move towards the establishment of a civilised & educated feudal social order (minority) & a passive docile peasantry (majority) to make this at all possible.

We see this such licentious Jollity & General Merrymaking on the streets of Blackpool & the Bigg Market in Newcastle on a nightly basis; Stag & Hen nights run amok with the virgin bride bedecked in emblems of fertility... But a pagan survival, or just something humanity is disposed to do at an instinctive level?

This is a crucial point in our understanding & interpretation of Folk Lore & Custom as being either superstition of lost significance OR just a bunch of stuff that people do year in year out, or not, as the case may be. Think of the wayside Floral Shrines; unseen a decade ago, they are now as common a feature of the British Highway as the speed camera.

The search for archaic meaning in folklore is a commonplace though somewhat anachronistic practise; ask anyone about the 'meaning' of the nursery rhyme 'Ring-a-Roses' and the chances are they'll tell you it's a reportage on the symptoms of the Black Death; ask anyone about The Green Man, and chances are they'll tell you he's a pagan god of the wildwood. In both cases there's no evidence, folkloric, written or otherwise, so support such notions, but still they persist as that new category of superstition - the popular 'mythconception'.

The decoration of the home with available evergreens seems a natural enough impulse without it having to be derived from pagan practices as such, nor yet to carry any sort of symbolic meaning above and beyond the immediate significance of doing such a thing. Words endure like Yule & Easter, of undoubted pre-Christian origin, but that's etymology; like folkoric practise, their true & actual meanings are determined solely by the pragmatics of usage.