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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23°
THREAD THE NEEDLE
run under, beginning with the last couple. In the London version (Miss Dendy) the "last line is called out in quite different tones from the rest of the rhyme. It is reported to have a most startling effect." The Warwickshire version is played differently. The players, after passing under the clasped hands, all circle or wind round one of their number, who stands still.
(c.) In some cases the verse, " How many miles to Babylon ? " is sung before the verses for "Thread the needle," and the reference made (ante, vol. i., p. 238) to an old version seems to suggest the origin of the game. This, at all events, goes far to prove that the central idea of the game is not connected with the sewing needle, but with an interesting dance move­ment, which is called by analogy, Thread the needle. It is, however, impossible to say whether the verses of this game are the fragments of an older and more lengthy original, which included both the words of " How many miles to Babylon" and " Thread the needle," or whether these two were indepen­dent games, which have become joined; but, on the whole, I am inclined to think that " Thread the needle," at all events, is an independent game, or the central idea of an independent game, and one of some antiquity.
This game is well illustrated by custom. At Trowbridge, in Wilts, a game, known as "Thread the needle," used to be the favourite sport with the lads and lasses on the evening of Shrove Tuesday festival. The vocal accompaniment was always the following:—
Shrove Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, when Jack went to plough, His mother made pancakes, she didn't know how; She tipped them, she tossed them, she made them so black, She put so much pepper she poisoned poor Jack.
Notes and Queries, 5th series, xi. p. 227.
At Bradford-on-Avon, as soon as the "pancake bell" rang at eleven A.M., the school children had holiday for the remainder of the day, and when the factories closed for the night, at dusk the boys and girls of the town would run through the streets in long strings playing "Thread the needle," and whooping and hallooing their best as they ran, and so collecting all they







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