The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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12 OATS AND BEANS AND BARLEY
volving opposite ways alternately. The march round is temporarily suspended for choosing partners. The partners salute [at * Now you're married'], or, rather, each lad kisses his chosen lass; the first two partners go out, the game continues as before, and every one in the ring has chosen and been chosen, and every lad has saluted every lass. The antiquity of the pastime is evidenced by its not mentioning wheat; wheat was in remote times an exceptional crop—the village people lived on oatmeal and barley bread. It also points, possibly, to a period when most of the land lay in grass. Portions of the open fields were cultivated, and after a few years of merciless cropping were laid down again to recuperate. ' Helping to chop the wood' recalls the time when coal was not known as fuel. I am indebted for the correct words of the above to a Raunds maiden, Miss B. Finding, a native of the village, who kindly wrote them down for me." Mr. Baker does not say how Miss Finding got the peculiar spelling of this version. It would be interesting to know whether this form of spelling was used as indicative of the pronunciation of the children, or of the supposed antiquity of the game. The Rev. W. D. Sweeting, also writes at the same reference, "The same game is played at the school feast at Maxey; but the words, as I have taken them down, vary from those given above. We have no mention of any crop except barley, which is largely grown in the district; and the refrain, repeated after the second and sixth lines, is ' waiting for the harvest.' A lady suggested to me that the two first lines of the conclusion are addressed to the bride of the game, and the two last, which in our version run, ' You must be kind and very good,' apply to the happy swain."
This interesting note not only suggests, as Mr. Baker and Mr. Sweeting say, the antiquity of the game and its connection with harvest at a time when the farms were all laid in open fields, but it points further to the custom of courtship and marriage being the outcome of village festivals and dances held after spring sowing and harvest gatherings. It seems in Northamptonshire not to have quite reached the stage of the pure children's game before it was taken note of by







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