Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Hock Tuesday

Today is Hock Tuesday . . . .  Yes, unless you are into kidnapping members of the opposite sex or know too much about old English practices, you probably are not celebrating this day or are even aware of it.  Even I, of all people, was unaware until recent weeks.

And it is not clear just exactly how Hocktide should be celebrated or how it was celebrated as it is not observed anymore (except in greatly altered and I suspect sanitized form at Hungerford).  For accounts differ.  How much those differences are due to different celebrations in different locales and how much to the mists of time is also unclear.

Even the reasons for Hocktide are unclear.  (But then who needs reasons to frolic and drink!)  It may have been celebrating the killing of those annoying Danes in times past.  Or it may have had a more mundane connection with the collection of rents.

There seems to be a consensus that on Hock Monday, the second Monday after Easter Sunday, men would capture women and release them for a kiss or a cash ransom.  On Hock Tuesday, the women would reciprocate and capture men to be released for a ransom.  Proceeds would go to the church and the poor.  That sanctified it all, don’t you know.

Or did it? There is some dispute just how much of the proceeds would make it to the poor and to the church.  It has been accused that more actually went towards drink.  That is one reason Henry VIII banned the celebration.  Good Queen Bess allowed it to revive later on.  There were also efforts to suppress Hock Day celebrations back in the 15th century.

I should disclaim that this bit of history is new to me, and I am not at all sure which sources are best.  But this by W. B. Gerish from 1910 best passes my smell test.

I should also disclaim I do not recommend women kidnap men today . . . not that I would mind terribly.

No comments: