Rogationtide

Celebrated on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ascension Day, the time for processions intended to establish annually the boundaries of the parish ('beating the bounds'). They were actually the last of the religious processions to survive, but the practices died out as the need for them ceased, i.e., as the lands were enclosed. MILKWORT (Polygala vulgaris) was carried in the processions; "the maidens which use in the countries to walke the procession do make themselves garlands and nosegaies of the milkwort" (Gerard). Cf the names Cross-flower, Procession-flower, Gang-flower, and Rogation-flower, all of them known to Gerard. But BIRCH leaves and branches were also prominent - Gerard again: "It serveth well to the decking up of houses and banqueting rooms, for places of pleasure, and for beautifying the streets in the Gosse and Gang weeks, and such like". 'Gang', OE gangen, to go, is another of the names given to the Rogation processions, others being Cross, Procession or Perambulation week, corrupted sometimes to Rammalation week. Birch served another purpose here - boys were whipped with them (and of course the boundaries were beaten) by tradition, to fix the boundaries in their minds for future years.

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