Youling

★ Youling Story :

In Rogation week there is or was an odd custom in the country about Keston and Wickham, in Kent. A number of young men meet together for the purpose, and, with a most hideous noise, run into the orchards, and, encircling each tree, pronounce these words:

Stand fast, root; bear well, top; God send us a youling sop! E’ry twig, apple big; E’ry bough, apple enow. Hats full, caps full, Full quarter sacks full.

For this incantation the confused rabble expect a gratuity in money, or drink, which is no less welcome; but if they are disappointed in both, they, with great solemnity, anathematize the owners and trees with altogether as insignificant a curse.

“It seems highly probable,” says Hasted, in his History of Kent, “that this custom has arisen from the ancient one of perambulation among the heathens, when they made their prayers to the gods, for the use and blessing of the fruits coming up, with thanksgiving for those of the preceding year; and as the heathens supplicated Eolus, the god of the winds, for his favorable blasts, so in this custom they still retain his name, with a very small variation, the ceremony being called yeuling; and the word is often used in their invocations.”

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