Old Tup

Old Tup
 , Derby Ram
   'The Derby Ram' or 'Old Tup' is a widely collected traditional song, found all over the English-speaking world. As with all traditional songs, it exists in numerous versions, including bawdy ones, but it always describes, in hyperbolic terms, a wondrous ram or tup:
   This ram it had two horns, sir That reached right up to the moon A man went up in January And he didn't come down till June.
   The song also describes how the ram was butchered and how the parts of his body were used.
   In the vicinity of Sheffield, however, the Old Tup was more than just a song, as there they had a *Christmas *visiting custom which included someone impersonating the Tup and a dramatic performance. The Tup's construction varied according to the age and abilities of the performers. At the most sophisticated end of the spectrum, a wooden head (or sometimes a real sheep's head) was fixed to a pole which was carried by a man hidden by a sack or a cloth. The head could have real ram's horns and boast other attributes such as a red tongue. But at the most amateur end the animal could simply be made by a boy wearing a sack which had its corners tied to resemble ears, over his head. The Tup was accompanied by a group of four to six, who sang the song and in the simplest versions he merely jigged about in time with the music. In the more developed versions they enacted the killing of the Tup, and added characters such as Little Devil Doubt and Beelzebub, borrowed from local versions of the *mummers play. The earliest references to the custom are from the mid-19th century, although the song is much older, and the custom is still not quite extinct.
   Compare *Old Horse.
   See also *hobby horses.
   ■ Cawte, 1978: 110-17; P. S. Smith, L&L 1 (1969), 6-8.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Old Horse —    In a similar situation to the *Old Tup, the Old Horse is both a song and a custom. As a song, it is found in different versions all over England, and it details how the horse used to be so proud and fine but is now old and decayed:    But now… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • tup — 1. noun a) A male sheep, a ram. ... to tie up rams, which could not be supposed to much used to handling ... having often heard for a proverb, as mad as a tup in an halter b) The head of a hammer, and particularly of a steam driven hammer. Those… …   Wiktionary

  • hobby horses —    The literature on the hobby horse has been expertly collected and analysed by Dr E. C. Cawte, and this entry relies heavily on his findings. Cawte discusses the various meanings of the term hobby horse , which need not concern us here but… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • animal disguise —    A number of *calendar customs include, or consist of, people dressing up to impersonate animals.    See *hobby horses for a general discussion, and for specific examples: *Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, *Antrobus Soul Cakers, *Hooden Horse,… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Christmas —    By far the most popular festival in England today, imposing itself even on those whose religious or political beliefs would normally rule out Christian celebrations; the greatest pressure is to conform for the sake of the children, who are… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Derby Ram —  see Old Tup …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • tapas — /tup euhs/, n. Yoga. the conditioning of the body through the proper kinds and amounts of diet, rest, bodily training, meditation, etc., to bring it to the greatest possible state of creative power. [1930 35; < Skt: penance, lit., heat] * * *… …   Universalium

  • Mummers Play — Mummer redirects here. For other uses, see Mummer (disambiguation). Weston Mummers who performed at the Packhorse Inn, Southstoke on Boxing Day 2007 …   Wikipedia

  • Finland — This article is about the country in Northern Europe. For other uses, see Finland (disambiguation). Coordinates: 65°N 27°E / 65°N 027°E / 65; …   Wikipedia

  • Hobby horse — This article is about costumed characters that appear in various customs, processions and ceremonies. For other uses, see Hobby horse (disambiguation) The term hobby horse is used, principally by folklorists, to refer to the costumed characters… …   Wikipedia