Issue Date: 09/07/2019
Issue Name: Curious Customs
Producer: Buckingham Covers
The stamps feature highly engaging and colourful illustrations, depicting and capturing the spirit of well known and some not so well known customs that take place around the UK each year.
Curious Customs are strange traditions that take place throughout the year, some evolving from ancient origins and others more recent inventions. Our cover reflects on the Hooden Horse, originally peculiar to East Kent and the Jack-in-the Green tradition. Our lovely cover features an image of a Hooden Horse along with a Whitstable postmark (9th July, 2019).
Across the British Isles there are many strange traditions that take place throughout the year, often these are regional and are linked to a particular point in the calendar. Some have truly ancient origins and others are recent inventions; many have lost their true meaning or have evolved into something that today seems quite abstract and obscure.
The Hooden Horse tradition entails the use of a wooden horse that is mounted on a pole and carried by an individual hidden under a sackcloth. The Hooden Horse was originally peculiar to East Kent, although regional variants of a “hooded animal” tradition are common throughout Britain. In South Wales, the Mari Lwyd tradition featured troupes of men with a hobby horse knocking at doors over the Christmas period and in areas along the Derbyshire Yorkshire border the Old Tup tradition featured groups going door to door around Christmas carrying a hobby horse that had a goat’s head. The Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss festival and Minehead Hobby Horse - which take place not at Christmas time but on May Day - are also along a similar theme.
The origins of Kent’s Hooden Horse are uncertain, with some believing it to be an early pagan or Saxon practice. Horses were important figures in Kent, the County symbol being the white horse. There are early references to hoodening, but more detailed accounts don’t really begin to appear until the 19th and 20th Century.
The practice has seen a revival over recent years. It appears that ‘hoodening’ was traditionally a winter practice, though today it has largely been absorbed into the Morris Tradition and hooden horses are often paraded at the many May Day festivals.
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This cover is available signed by Folk Music Royalty Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson.