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.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
parish units of cities and boroughs. The bells were rung on all occasions when it was necessary to call the people together. The "alarm" bell tolling quickly filled the open spaces and market-places of the towns, and it is a well-known fact that serious contests and contest games between parishes and wards of parishes were frequent. The names " oranges " and "lemons," given to the leaders in the game, usually con­sidered to be the fruits of these names, are, in my opinion, the names of the " colours " of the two rival factions.
The passing under the arch in this game is not absolutely necessary in order that the players may exercise their choice of leaders, nor is the " secrecy " which is observed necessary either. Even this may have its origin in custom. It may signify the compulsory attendance of a vassal under pain of punishment to serve one side, or the taking prisoner and con­demning to death for serving on the opponents' or losing side. An idea is current that it represents cutting off the last person's head, the last of the string or line of players, and in some places the last one in the line is always caught instead of one whom the leaders choose to enclose in their arms. Of course a " laggard " or late arrival would be liable to suspicion and punishment, and this idea may be suggested in the game; but I do not think that the game originates from the idea of catching a "last" player. The passing under the arch can also be attributed to the custom of compelling prisoners to pass under a yoke to signify servitude, and the threat of execution would follow attempt to escape or disobedience. Again, prisoners were offered life and freedom on condition of joining the army of their opponents.
The other games of this method of play, "Three Days' Holiday," and "Tug of War," are the same game under other names, with only a nominy surviving, and the method of play. Several games entered under the title of " Through the Needle Eye," are really the " arch " type with the " tug," that is the " Orange and Lemons" game, instead of belonging to the " Thread the Needle " or first form of arch type, as they are usually considered. The Scottish form, described by Jamieson (ii. p. 290), is an exception which should have been in-

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III