As it is Easter weekend we’ve delved into the folklore archive and found some Easter traditions that were commonly upheld in Herefordshire. Easter Corn Showing and Pax Cakes were activities which brought communities together for celebration and worship.
One of the most common was something called ‘corn showing’. It involved copious amounts of plum cake and cider, sounds good so far. Corn showing was when the men of the village would gather their families together. They would then head into a wheat field with food and drink for a feast and to bless the crops. They would eat, drink and make merry, marching across the field with joined hands. Reciting as they went, “Every step a reap, every reap a sheaf, And God send the master a good harvest”. A small piece of cake would then be buried in the corner of the field and cider poured on top for good measure.
A mass weeding of the crop would also take place. The best weeder was allowed to steal a kiss from the prettiest woman in the group. Not only that but he was given the largest piece of cake at the feast too.
Cakes and Ale for All
In Hentland, King’s Caple and Sellack Pax (peace) cakes were also distributed to parishioners on Palm Sunday. This tradition started at Sellack. Thomas More a priest who owned lands there provided in his will for an annual distribution of cakes and ale to the parish. In the hope that people would remember him and pray for his soul. This fabulous tradition is still observed at Sellack. The cakes are now biscuits with a lamb and a flag impressed into them. They were originally buns and at Sellack and Kings Caple ale was at one time also provided. But this was discontinued some time ago.
It’s great to hear that these lovely traditions have not been lost over the centuries and are remembered and observed today.
It sounds as though Herefordshire folk certainly know how to celebrate Easter. So bring out the cakes, biscuits and ale we say!
Wishing you all a very Happy Easter weekend.
If you love Herefordshire Folklore and History follow our weekly Facebook ‘Folklore Friday’ feature here.
Click here to return to our Herefordshire History and Folklore page for more great stories.