The Everyday Lore Project

11 August 2020 – Old Lammas Eve

11 August 2020 – Old Lammas Eve

Today is Old Lammas Eve, and on Old Lammas Eve there is a Scottish tradition of raiding rowan trees for their branches, twisting them into crosses, and hanging them above thresholds to ward off evil spirits. But the rowan only retains its power if the harvesting is done in secret, gob shut. So after work, I went on an adventure.

Things that went right:
I didn’t run out of petrol
I found a parking space
I remained silent (apart from several sighs and a snort of laughter)
Nobody knew why I was there
I ate a lot of blackberries
I recognised yarrow

Things that did not go right:
I hadn’t thought about my footwear
There were a lot of stinging nettles
And brambles
And thistles
And briars
And mosquitoes
And potential ankle-turning dips
And shale on gradients
And the rowan tree that was supposed to be The Rowan Tree turned out to be a blasted hawthorn, literally
In fact, all the trees were hawthorn, or elder, or oak, or ash, or holly, or others, but mainly hawthorn
And no rowan

And things that went blissfully:
Wandering along the South Downs in the about to set sun looking for rowan to twist into crosses to hang above my thresholds to ward off evil spirits after a day of sitting down and staring at a computer screen.

And best yet, I may even have a stye coming on, so tomorrow I can try rubbing it with gold…


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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