There were some questionable and unusual things that used to be done centuries ago during Rogation-tide. Here are excerpts from a website I found that tell of some of these Rogation practices...
"The Rogation Days, the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day, originated in Vienne, France, in 470 after a series of natural disasters had caused much suffering among the people. Archbishop Mamertus proclaimed a fast and ordered that special litanies and prayers be said as the population processed around their fields, asking God's protection and blessing on the crops that were just beginning to sprout. The Latin word rogare means "to ask", thus these were "rogation" processions. In an agricultural society, closely connected with the soil and highly vulnerable to the uncertainties of nature, this was an idea that took root quickly, and the custom spread around Europe and over to Britain.
The Gospel formerly appointed for that Sunday was from John 16, where Jesus tells his disciples to ask, and ye shall receive. While technically they were days of fasting, for which they were also known as "Grass Days," for the meatless meals that were enjoined, the Rogation Days developed into a popular festival, celebrating the arrival of spring and serving other purposes, as well. Other names for these days include "Gang Days," from the Anglo-Saxon gangen, "to go," and "Cross Days," both titles signifying the processions with crosses and banners around the countryside. In some parishes, the procession took more than one day and the whole business became an occasion for several days of picnics and revels of all sorts, particularly among those who trooped along at the fringes of the religious aspects of the procession.
Known as "beating the bounds," the processions customarily stopped at boundary marks and other significant landmarks of the parish, such as a venerable tree, or a great rock, or perhaps a pond. The priest would read the Gospel and perhaps affix a cross to the landmark.
Then the boys of the parish would suffer some indignity intended to help them remember the spot.
Boys were bumped about against rocks and trees, thrown into the water, held upside-down over fences, thrown into bramble patches, or beaten with willow wands--and then given a treat in compensation.
In later times, the marchers beat the boundary marker with the willow wands, beating the bounds, rather than the boys.
(WHEW!! Glad they finally stopped that other practice, eh?!!)
|Cross Procession around the property|