Mudcat Café message #2149973 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #104600   Message #2149973
Posted By: Ruth Archer
15-Sep-07 - 02:18 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
Subject: RE: Folklore: The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
I agree, Anahata.

The thing about calendar customs is that they are part of the community and the location where they happen. When I first heard about Thaxted, and how they do Abbots Bromley at twilight to make it all spooky and use the Robinson tune because it's more "atmospheric", I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. They may have a lovely time prancing about with their horns, but whatever they're doing, it ain't Abbots Bromley. That happens in one place, performed by one group of people, who may occasionally take their custom to other places and share it - if you're lucky. Surely that's enough.

The thing that makes these events special is the fact that you have to go to the place where they happen to see them! They are site-specific, as it were. A lot of the time, the joy of them doesn't come from the custom itself - have you ever seen the Abbots Bromley "dance"? It's little more than weaving about. Why would you want to recreate that? Half the appeal is the fact that they use the ancient horns, and those never even leave the parish - so you CAN'T recreate that.

The joy comes from being priveleged to share in the tradition itself. The people who take part in the real customs aren't even folkies, most of them: they do it because their families, and their communities, have always done. The idea of folked-up recreations of their traditions is mystefying.

Give me the Isle of Capri any day.