May 15, 2012

Stoning as a courtship rite?


Work is insanely busy these days, and my weekends aren't much better, but I don't want to neglect this blog. So to satisfy my need for interesting folklore, here is a demented courtship rite from the Isles of Shoals:

"Very ancient tradition says that the method of courtship at the Isles of Shoals was after this fashion: If a youth fell in love with a maid, he lay in wait till she passed by, and then pelted her with stones... so that if a fair Shoaler found herself the centre of a volley of missiles, she might be sure that an ardent admirer was expressing himself with decision certainly, if not with tact! If she turned, and exhibited any curiosity as the point of the compass whence the bombardment proceeded, her doubts were dispelled by another shower; but if she went on her way in maiden meditation, then was her swain in despair, and life, as is usual in such cases, became a burden to him."

This quaint (if painful) rite is described in Celia Thaxter's 1873 tome Among the Isles of Shoals (and I found it in B.A. Botkin's Treasury of New England Folklore).

I doubt this type of ritual still happens on the Isles, but I've never been so don't blame me if someone pelts you with rocks while you're wearing your new bathing suit. Take it as a compliment!

If you are on one of the Isles that belong to New Hampshire you might even be pelted by someone of the same gender, since gay marriage is allowed there. You might even call it striking a blow for equality! (I know it's a bad joke but I couldn't resist).

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