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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4QO
MEMOIR ON THE STUDY OF
interest lies in the fact that they are all governed by the common element of contest.
I will now turn to the circle games. Like the line games, this form contains games which show marriage custom, but it is significant that they all show a distinctly different form of marriage. Thus they all show courtship and love preceding the marriage, and they show that a distinct ceremony of marriage is needful; but this ceremony is not necessarily the present Church ceremony. The two best examples are " Sally Water" (vol. ii. pp. 149-179) and "Merry-ma-tansa" (vol. i.
pp. 369-367).
In "Sally Water" the two principal characters have no words to say, but one chooses another deliberately, and the bond is sealed by a kiss, and in some instances with joining of hands. The circle of friends approve the choice, and a blessing and good wishes follow for the happiness of the married couple, wishes that children may be born to them, and the period of the duration of the marriage for seven years (the popular notion of the time for which the marriage vows are binding). I have printed a great many versions of this game (about fifty), and note that in the majority of them "Sally" and "Water" are conspicuous words. In fact they are usually taken to mean the name of the girl, but on examin­ing the game closely I think it is possible, and probable, that " Sally Water " may be a corruption of some other word or words, not the name of a girl; that the word " Water" is connected, not with the name of the maiden, but with the action of sprinkling which she is called upon to fulfil. The mention of water is pretty constant throughout the game. There are numerous instances of the corruption of words in the game, and the tendency has been to lose the sprinkling of water incident altogether.
The sitting or kneeling attitude, which indicates a reverential attitude, obtains in nearly all versions, as do the words " Rise and choose a young man," and "Crying for a young man." This "crying" for a young man does not necessarily mean weeping; rather I consider it to mean "announcing a want" in the way "wants" or "losses" were cried formerly by the
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