• Plough Plays and Waes-hals

    During December and January some members of GMM put down their sticks and hankies and put on some different costumes; its Plough Play season!

    The Lincolnshire plough plays are a tradition dating back centuries and are similar in structure to the mummer's plays performed throughout the country. Farm workers were laid off and un-paid between Christmas Eve and Plough Monday, the first Monday in January, and the men, referred to as "Plough Jags", would go out round the big houses and pubs in their locality and perform their own mummer's play in order to earn food, beer and some extra money. The arrival of the Plough Jags became an essential part of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Each village in Lincolnshire had its own play and many of these still exist today.

    Grimsby Morris Men are helping to keep this tradition alive. Each year, around Christmas, we perform a different Lincolnshire plough play in pubs and other places around Lincolnshire. Instead of collecting money to supplement our meagre wages, we collect for local charities. If we enter your hostelry this year, enjoy the play and then dig deep into your pockets. Think of it as paying to make us go away!

        
        

       

    January is also waes-hal season.

    Like the plough plays, waes-haling is a traditional activity, but is much more ancient, probably pre-dating the arrival of Christianity in England. The purpose of waes-haling is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn.

    We usually do a couple of waes-hals at places where apple trees are growing. We dance, sing, recite "poetry", perform our plough play and toast the apple tries to encourage Pomona, the godess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards, to bring a bumper crop of apples at harvest time. Although reluctant, we usually consume small quantities of cider to further encourage the godess.

    Have a look at our events listing to catch up with a plough play performance or a waes-hal.