Cornish Folk Tradition: Songs Music Dance and Associated Customs
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Guldhise and Crying the Neck

Autumn is celebrated in Cornwall with the tradition of the Guldhise and the ceremony of Crying the Neck.

 

Crying the Neck

Guldhise is the dialect word for Harvest Home. It is derived from the Cornish "gool" meaning feast and "deys" meaning rick. It is a custom celebrating a succesful harvest when the last of the corn has been cut and the last rick made. The proceedings start with the Crying the Neck Ceremony held as the last and best of the corn is cut.

The Cutter shouts "Yma genev! Yma genev! yma genev"

All reply " Pandr'genes? Pand'r genes? Pand'r genes?

The cutter replies "Pen yar! Pen Yar! Pen Yar"

All respond: "Houra! Houra! Houra!"

The cutter shouts again in dialect "I ave'n! I ave'n! I ave'n"

All reply "What avee? What avee? What avee?"

Cutter replies "A Neck! A Neck! A Neck!"

All respond "Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"

These events take place at farms all over Cornwall

Click to see historic accounts of the custom at Withiel.

 

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Cock In Britches Dance

There is a dance and song associated with the "Crying the Neck" ceremony in called "Cock in Britches". A title which sometimes falls foul of internet language monitoring but actually is a metaphore. The fighting cockrell was handicapped by special britches and here the expression alludes to the way that the growth of the corn crop is handicapped by weeds. The lyrics and actions of the dance tell the story of the corn from sowing to harvest including the importance of using a "weeding paddle" to remove the weeds.

click here for the music and lyrics to the song

click here for a description of the dance

An Daras, doorway in Cornish, is an outreach project of Lowender Peran, Cornwall’s Celtic festival, and provides a portal to the distinctive traditions of Cornwall . The links on the site map will take you to the tunes, songs, dances and associated traditions of Cornwall. There are also links to teaching materials and further research work and publications on Cornish Folk Tradition.

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