On this day the important ceremony of passing small portions of bride cake through the wedding ring is ritually performed. The just execution of this idolatrous ceremony is attended to with the most scrupulous exactness.
The bride holds the ring between the forefinger and thumb of her right hand, through which the groom passes each portion of the cake nine times, previously cut by other individuals of the party into disposable pieces for the purpose. These he delivers in succession to the bridesmaids, who seal them up carefully, each in an envelope of fair writing-paper.
As amulets of inestimable value, they are distributed amongst the friends of the bride, who seldom neglect to make a trial of their virtues. Various are the methods of augury to which they are applied, one only of which shall be mentioned here.
If the fair idolatress deposit one of these amulets in the foot of her left stocking, when she goes to bed, and place lit under her pillow, she will dream of the person who is destined by fate to be her partner for life. (Gutch and Peacock)
On the morning of the Nativity the bag must be carefully opened in silence, and the rose placed by the lady in her bosom. Thus she must wear it to church. Some young man will either ask for the rose, or take it from her without asking. That young man is destined to become eventually the lady's husband.
At eve last midsummer no sleep I sought,The practice of sowing hemp-seed on midsummer-eve is not especially a Cornish superstition, yet it was at one time a favorite practice with young women to try the experiment. Many a strange story have I been told as to the result of the sowing, and many a trick could I tell of, which has been played off by young men who had become acquainted with the secret intention of some maidens. I believe there is but little difference in the rude rhyme used on the occasion, --
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought;
I scatter'd round the seed on every side,
And three times in a trembling accent cried, --
"This hemp-seed with my virgin hands I sow,
Who shall my true love be, the crop shall mow."
I straight look'd back, and, if my eyes speak truth,
With his keen scythe behind me came the youth.
Hemp-seed I sow,(the action of sowing the seed and of hoeing it in, must be deliberately gone through); --
Hemp-seed I hoe,
And heA phantom of the true lover will now appear, and of course the maid or maidens retire in wild affright.
Who will my true love be
Come after me and mow.
O, gentlemen, see, see! dead Henry's wounds
Open their congeal'd mouths and bleed afresh.
Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity;
For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood
From cold and empty veins, where no blood swells;
Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.