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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(d) The most interesting point about this game is that it appears to refer to a custom or observance which particularly concerns young girls. We cannot say what the custom or observance was originally, but the words point to something in which a young maiden played the principal part. "We are all maidens" and " she's the youngest here" runs through most of the versions. A death seems to be indicated, and it may be that this game was originally one where the death of the betrothed of the youngest maiden was announced. This would account for the " turning the face to the wall/' which is indicative of mourning and great sorrow and loss. The mention of the girl's accomplishments may mean that being so young and accomplished she would quickly get another suitor, and this might also account for the " fie for shame!"—shame to be thinking of another lover so soon; or, on the other hand, the other maidens may regret that by the loss of her lover and betrothed this young maiden's talents will be lost in "old maidenhood," as she will not now be married, and this will be "a shame." She will be, in fact, "on the shelf" or "out of sight" for the rest of her life, and through no fault of her own. The " we are all maidens " might refer to the old custom of maidens carrying the corpse of one of their number to the grave, and the words may have originally been the lament over her death.
With reference to the words " turn the candlestick," which occurs in six versions, " M. H. P.," in Notes and Queries (7th ser., xi. 256), says: " Turning the Candlestick.—A candle­stick in the game of ' See-saw' is the Yorkshire name for the child who stands in the centre of the plank, and assists the motion by swaying from side to side." Toone (Etymological Dictionary) says—Before the introduction of the modern candle­stick, the custom was to have the candle held by a person appointed for that purpose, called a candle-holder, and hence the term became proverbial to signify an idle spectator.
" I'll be a candle-holder and look on."—Romeo and Juliet.
"A candle-holder sees most of the game."—Ray's Proverbs.
If this should be the meaning of the phrase in these rhymes, " she can turn the candlestick" may have originally meant

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