Sunday, December 28, 2008

ST STEPHEN'S DAY,HUNT THE WREN- CRITTERS SUNDAY

I'm a baby Blackbird not a Wren, Babooshka

Yesterday was Boxing Day, St Stephen's Day and also Wren Day/Hunt The Wren Day. I had never heard of Wren day until I moved to the Isle of Man. Unfortuntately I have no Wren images so I chose my smallest bird image a baby blackbird.

What is Hunting The Wren ?

Hunting the Wren was quite a bloodthirsty ritual as gangs of youths, boys would scour the countryside looking for a defenceless wren to trap and kill. Now a more humane option is to use an artificial bird you will be glad to hear.

The wren then became the centrepiece for a "bush" - two wooden hoops set at right angles and placed on top of a pole and covered with ribbons and evergreens.

 'The "bush" would then be carried from house to house while the group sang the Hunt the Wren song and hoped to collect some money or treats for their troubles. 

'The song charts the progress of the wren from being hunted, caught, cooked and then eaten. There are many suggestions as to why the poor wren should be singled out for such treatment, such as it being a commemoration of the martyrdom of St Stephen and revenge on the wren because it is the reincarnation of an enchantress who lured men to their death in droves. 

'The feathers of the wren are distributed amongst the wren boys as a good luck charm, being particularly potent against witchcraft and to prevent a shipwreck.' 


What wiki has to say click here 

Do you know any other Wren Day connections?

or more cute and crazies see MISTY DAWN and her own beauties and others more cute and crazies see MISTY DAWN and her own beauties and others

42 comments:

Per Stromsjo said...

In case there are still bloodthirsty gangs around, I suppose they won't enjoy an artificial substitute?

lmerie said...

That was quite interesting - not much of a filling meal, huh?

:)

Happy Boxing Day!

Sue said...

I had never heard of this before. Happy weekend and thanks for stopping by :)

Anonymous said...

We hunted for a white plastic duck in Castletown. We couldn't find a plastic wren. My dad is Irish and a Wren boy so yes I know about this.

Pat.

Norm said...

cute bird...yes! It's boxing day and lots lots of sale items...happy new year..

shutterhappyjenn said...

This is the first time I heard such a thing. Very interesting.. and the shot was so good!

My Camera Critters post is now up, too! You can check it here if you have some time. I'll be glad to see you there.

i beati said...

cute

Ben said...

From your comment, I guess you had a wonderful time. Happy holidays!

Pam said...

Blessing B. Cute even if it's not a wren.

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Great close up - interesting too!

George said...

I've heard of Boxing Day, but Hunt the Wren is new. Are there any wrens left on the Isle of Mann?

Gaelyn said...

What a very different custom. And wrens being so small to eat.
Interesting.

Jana said...

That is quite a tradition! Thanks for sharing!

Molly said...

I was very interested to hear that the wren boys are a tradition in the Isle of Man also. I grew up in Ireland where, at least when I was young, St. Stephen's Day brought raggle taggle bands of boys with blackened faces into our neighbourhood, going from door to door, singing and making an awful din, collecting money "to bury the wren!"

Shannon H. said...

Interesting shot.

forgetfulone said...

How very interesting! Happy Boxing Day and Wren day.

altadenahiker said...

Those feathers weren't particularly lucky for the wren, it seems.

Grammy said...

Great photo. It is so cute.

Happy new year!

Aileni said...

Wrens are very special to us - we even named our cottage for the bird.
I do hope the New Year brings you and Gary better times and opportunities.

Zsolt72 said...

really very cute bird. At times we find little birds in our garden which have fallen out from the nest.We feed them and then we bring them to a wild-park where professionals deal with them. I couldnt sleep to let them just to be the victim of cats in our garden.

Bibi said...

Sweet little birdie you've shown to represent the poor little wren. Awful custom, but that's the way things once were. Just like fox hunting, I guess, or as far as I'm concerned, hunting for "sport" in general.

Chris Gale said...

What is it with people and 'tradition'? This bloodthirsty ritual should not be celebrated, even with a plastic bird, as it just making out that somehow the past was all lovely and quaint.
How about trying to move society forward and teach kids respect for all sentient creatures, rather than revelling in some barbarism from the past?

Ackworth born said...

Interesting - I'd not heard of this before - just looked it up in a lovely book I have "All the birds of the Air" - lore and literature of British Birds by Francesca Greenoak - it seems to be a tradition carried on in various parts of Europe including Pembrokeshire, Devon and Marseille.
Meanwhile in Cornwall they have a rhyme "Hunt a robin or a wren/ Never prosper man or boy" It is also revered in Ireland and Scotland.

Reader Wil said...

That was quite interesting, Babooshka! I didn't know of this tradition. GB keeps surprising me, that's why I studied English and everything connected with it. I am glad that the bird is now an artificial one. I take it that St Stephen was the one who was stoned to death?

Jilly said...

I haven't seen a wren in goodness knows how many years. I like your baby blackbird tho. Fascinating commentary. You still find thrush paté in France, unfortunately.

JM said...

Great close-up of the little blackbird!
Glad to hear they start using artificial birds for the hunting thing...
Hope you have had a nice Christmas too.

splummer said...

Hi!
Love the photo of the baby blackbird! Never heard of Hunt the Wren Day, have heard of the other 2. Thanks for stopping by my place!

Sherrie

Marc said...

Not sure about the Wren hunt, but cute blackbirdie!

Gattina said...

I don't like bloodthirsty stories with animals involved, so I only admired this beautiful little birdie, soo cute !!

Ken Mac said...

what an inquisitive fellow!

Small City Scenes said...

Interesting--Hunt a Wren--doesn't sound like fun to me. but then I'm not a bloodthirsty gang--of one. MB

Peter said...

I have a very vague idea about the wren tradition. Now I know a lot more! Thanks!

Your baby blackbird obviously looks very much like a wren (I checked on Google)! If you hadn't said...!

babooshka said...

Chris - I am a vegetarian, so I obviously I deplore hunting myself. I simply posted to my blog how an bloodthirsty, archaic and fortunately outmoded tradition is celebrated here. Personally It's not for me and as everyone knows who visits my blog constantly there is no one who does convey being kind to wildlife more than me.

Jim said...

Sounds like a horrible tradition, but the baby blackbird picture is cute.

Anonymous said...

Yuck! Glad it's only a plastic one now.

Anonymous said...

Yuck! Glad it's only a plastic one now.

roentarre said...

I know the frustration of photographying wrens. They are just way too hard to capture. They are also very cute and agile that watching them hopping around is an enjoyment that I often forget to take photographs!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Very interesting about Wren Day. Hmmm. Seems like hunting and cooking such a tiny bird wouldn't be worth the bother. I'm glad there's a modern-day alternative. ;-)

BJ Roan said...

Cute picture of that wren...I mean baby blackbird. Although it is a sad tale, I enjoyed reading the history behind Hunt the Wren Day.

ramblingwoods said...

Gee whiz..the poor wren...

Misty Dawn said...

A truly fantastic post. I always look forward to your posts for the photos and the education.

Mary said...

I've never heard of this wren hunt and hope that is because it no longer exists! What a horrible custom that seems to have very little point....sigh. I'd probably beat the wren hunters over the head and "pluck" them rather then give them coins. Fascinating bit of history!

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