St Anne's Day

St Anne's Day
(26 July)
   Sidney Oldall Addy describes the following *love divination procedure for St Anne's Eve, probably as collected in Derbyshire or Yorkshire, although similar ones are reported elsewhere for Midsummer and other times.
   A stool is set in the middle of a room, and a bowl of water put thereon. A string or piece of rope is then hung across the room. Seven unmarried girls, who must not speak till the ceremony is over, come in, and each hangs a smock on the line. Then each of the girls in turn drops a bay-leaf into the water, and sits down immediately opposite to the smock which she has hung up. Soon afterwards a young man will enter the room, take a bay-leaf from the bowl, and sprinkle the smock of the girl whom he intends to marry. He will marry her that year.
   Ben Jonson includes a reference to divin-atory dreams in his masque 'The Satyr', but John *Aubrey (1686/1880: 54) challenges this and says he must mean *St Agnes. It is certainly true that St Agnes's Eve/Day is a far more common time for love divinations, but as Thomas Killigrew (Thomaso, (1663), ii. iv) includes the term 'St Ann's Vision' in a list of failed love charms, it seems that Jonson was correct.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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