Teachers’ Resources for the Winter Solstice

By Ronald Hutton in the Times (London) Educational Supplement, with special attention to mumping.

The third characteristic of midwinter is charity, based on the humane impulse to assist those who not could afford to make merry (and coupled with the more practical reality that the poor might slit their wealthier neighbours’ throats unless their resentments were tempered). Collecting and giving to the poor was known in variant local English terms as Thomasing, Gooding, Mumping, Hoggling or Hognelling. Able-bodied working men could earn the food and money for their household feasts by performing songs, dances or plays to please the better off – such as the Mummers’ Play, Sword Dances and, of course, carols.

Down the Forest Service road from my house is the hobby ranch of a rich doctor whom we call “the squire,” not entirely in fun. Maybe M. and I should recruit friends to carol at his house and see what he’d give us. Or not.

3 thoughts on “Teachers’ Resources for the Winter Solstice

  1. From what you’ve told us about the squire (and mapping his behaviors to such folks that live around here), I’d expect your caroling to be paid for with buckshot.

  2. O let us love our occupations,
    Bless the squire and his relations,
    Live upon our daily rations,
    And always know our proper stations.

    –Charles Dickens, The Chimes, Second Quarter (1844)

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