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Happy Birthday, softpaw!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

goodman's croft
The name given in Scotland to a strip of land, or the corner of a field, left untilled. It is a popular superstition that unless some such place is left, the Spirit of Evil will damage the crop.
--Edwin Radford's Encyclopedia of Phrases and Origins, 1945

Plough Monday
On the first Monday after Christmas holidays it was customary for farm laborers, or plough-stots, sometimes dressed in white and adorned with flowers and ribbons, to raise plough-money for drinking revelries. In Rustic Speech and Folklore (1914), E. M. Wright remarked, "Among them were usually two special characters, the Fool, and a man dressed up showy female costume called the Bessy; but in some places, there were two, and even four female characters with such names as Sweet Sis, Old Joan, Maid Marian, or collectively named Bessybabs, Ladymadams, Queens. This troupe performed some kind of morris-dance or sword-dance, and collected money from the onlookers."

<deep voice> But they were totally butch and not at all a bunch of whoopsies, honestly. </deep voice>

Re: "goodman's croft", what do you want to bet that started out as the fairly straightforward practice of leaving part of the field fallow to avoid overplowing, and got corrupted into pseudoreligious gobbledegook by later generations?

-The Gneech


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2007 02:35 pm (UTC)
Probably what happened with the croft was that someone did it either by accident or misfortune, and told his fellow farmers that was the reason, or there was a bonus crop that year, and the year after, because the soil was allowed to rest, and superstitious minds did the rest.

(I am totally hating the contorted syntax of the above sentence but am neither awake nor caffeinated enough to correct it. *sigh*)
Jan. 8th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking it started as an accident that became pseudoreligious gobbledegook and eventually led to crop rotation.
Jan. 8th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)
Interesting forgotten English for my day.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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