In folk tradition, the wren is regarded as always female ('Jenny Wren'), and as wife to the *robin; like the latter she is a sacred bird and must not be harmed, nor should her eggs be taken, otherwise someone close to the taker will die:
   The robin redbreast and the wren Are God Almighty's cock and hen.
   Nevertheless, there exists a *calendar custom called 'Hunting the Wren' which was widespread in Ireland, Wales, and the Isle of Man, and not unknown in England. The usual time for the custom is St Stephen's Day (26 December), when groups of young men hunted and killed wrens and then paraded them around the neighbourhood with much singing and music. Hunting the Wren is thus normally disregarded in discussions of English customs, but there have been sufficient reports to indicate a reasonably strong presence in this country. In some instances, the custom may well have been performed by Irish or Welsh immigrants, as a writer from Plymouth, Devon, confirms: 'I have often known the Irish boys living in Stonehouse Lane, the St. Giles of Plymouth, go round the town with sticks and garlands, singing the well-known song of the Wren Boys from door to door, on St Stephen's Day, in order to get money, but I am happy to say I never could find either a living or dead wren among them' (Land and Water (30 Oct. 1880)). But there are too many references for them all to be explained in this way, as Armstrong, for example, lists fifteen English counties in which he found traces. One description includes the rhyme that is commonly used in Ireland: 'At Christmas-tide, boys are accustomed in Essex to kill wrens and carry them about in furze bushes, from house to house, asking a present in these words:
   The wren, the wren, the king of the birds St. Stephen's Day was killed in the furze Although he be little his honour is great And so, good people, pray give us a treat' (Henderson, 1879: 125)
   The picture is slightly obscured by an occasionally reported custom which may or may not be related. Several reports state that at Christmas time it was customary for villagers to go out into the woods to 'hunt', which often turned into an indiscriminate orgy of killing anything that moved, including wrens and other small birds (see *St Stephen's Day, and *squirrel hunting).
   Another strand in our wren lore is a widespread song which has excited folklorists' imagination for many years, 'The Cutty Wren' or 'Richat to Robert', which has been collected all over the British Isles and North America, with a first-known publication date of 1744. In a hypnotic, repetitive chant, the song details how we are to go hunting to kill a wren, in terms of how huge the bird is, how difficult to kill, and the prodigious amount of meat there will be to share out. It has been claimed that it has ancient ritual origins, which may be true, but there is no evidence and it is also possible that it belongs to the genre of hyperbolic comedy songs such as 'The Wonderful Crocodile', 'The Derby Ram', and so on.
   ■ Armstrong, 1958: 141-66; Swainson, 1886: 35-43; Opie and Opie, 1997: 437-40.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wrens — Ciudad de los Estados Unidos …   Wikipedia Español

  • Wrens — Wrens, GA U.S. city in Georgia Population (2000): 2314 Housing Units (2000): 1030 Land area (2000): 3.044465 sq. miles (7.885129 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.006697 sq. miles (0.017346 sq. km) Total area (2000): 3.051162 sq. miles (7.902475 sq.… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Wrens, GA — U.S. city in Georgia Population (2000): 2314 Housing Units (2000): 1030 Land area (2000): 3.044465 sq. miles (7.885129 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.006697 sq. miles (0.017346 sq. km) Total area (2000): 3.051162 sq. miles (7.902475 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Wrens — Der Women s Royal Naval Service (Abkürzung: WRNS; deutsch etwa: Königlicher Marinedienst der Frauen), im allgemeinen Sprachgebrauch und auch offiziell Wrens genannt, bezeichnete den Teil der Royal Navy, also der Kriegsmarine des Vereinigten… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • wrens — Kinglet King let, n. 1. A little king; a weak or insignificant king. Carlyle. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of several species of small singing birds of the genus {Regulus} and family {Sylviid[ae]}. [1913 Webster] Note: The golden crowned… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Wrens — Original name in latin Wrens Name in other language State code US Continent/City America/New York longitude 33.20765 latitude 82.39179 altitude 129 Population 2187 Date 2011 05 14 …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • wrens — karietaitiniai statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Troglodytidae angl. wrens vok. Zaunkönige rus. крапивниковые pranc. troglodytes; troglodytidés ryšiai: platesnis terminas – tikrieji giesmininkai siauresnis terminas –… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • Wrens View — (Dinner Plain,Австралия) Категория отеля: Адрес: 2471 Halter Lane, 3898 Dinner Plain, Ав …   Каталог отелей

  • Wrens View — (Dinner Plain,Австралия) Категория отеля: Адрес: Halter Lane, 3898 Dinner Plain, Австрал …   Каталог отелей

  • Wrens, Georgia — Infobox Settlement official name = Wrens, Georgia other name = native name = nickname = settlement type = City motto = imagesize = image caption = flag size = image seal size = image shield = shield size = image blank emblem = blank emblem type …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”