"May Day: America's Traditional, Radical, Complicated Holiday," from the Smithsonian NMAH blog. Part One, Part Two.
The mark strolls along a city sidewalk, fresh out of the bank, his wallet in his back pocket, blithely unaware that he's stumbled into the clutches of a practiced jug troupe. Slate's Joe Keohane mourns the dying art of picking pockets. [more inside]
On January 11, 2010, Canon David Parrott blessed laptop computers and mobile phones during the Plow Monday service at St Lawrence Jewry Church in the City of London. Plough Monday is the traditional start of the English agricultural year, and the Church was involved with blessing of tools for the coming year. Before it was involved with church services, Plough Monday was a time for folk plays and dancing (associated with other Mummers plays), with regional variations. Some new Molly Dancers have revived the traditions, complete with plow. There were also races to see who would start their work the earliest, to show their readiness to commence the labors of the year. So sing out now and walk your plough (or play a ring tone on your mobile phone). [more inside]
Namahage (生剥) is a Japanese ritual which is observed throughout Oga Peninsula, Akita Prefecture in northern Honshū, Japan. It is saidto have originated as a ritual for cleansing people's souls, and for blessing the new year. [more inside]
This entrancing 17-minute film compiled from footage of British folk celebrations was put together in honor of a new project created by set designer Simon Costin. Finding much of his artistic inspiration in the folklore of Great Britain, Costin wondered why there was no national center or museum dedicated to studying and collecting these traditional customs. So he's decided to start one, The Museum of British Folklore, and is launching the project this summer by outfitting a 1976 caravan and traveling to folk festivals around the country. The expedition is intended to build interest in the museum project, and to collect and document some of the surprising variety of more than 700 annual, seasonal, often pre-Christian festival celebrations that continue to this day. [more inside]