Ritualised Entry in Seasonal and Marriage Custom

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Aside from Trefor Owen's ‘The Ritual Entry to the House in Wales’, little has been written on how seasonal visitors actually effect entry and gain access to the interior of the houses they visit. Formulas requesting those inside to ‘open up’ are often noted in studies of traditional drama, but the resonance of these requests is unexplored in the context of a broader dynamic of the relationship between householder and visitor and the ritual significance of negotiated boundary-crossing. The interest of commentators, understandably, focuses on what people do after they enter the home and, for example, establish a play-space. What follows is an attempt at a better understanding of what it means to ask for entry and be admitted, and in what circumstances entry might be controlled, regulated or even refused. We will examine examples of ritualised entry and exit from a variety of traditional contexts - mainly from Ireland, Wales and Scotland - offering a tentative analysis of how these movements across thresholds might be related and of how they lend meaning to the cultural forms of which they form a part. Links between seasonal and marriage traditions will also be explored, and a simple structural model offered which may help in identifying conceptual links between these forms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-95
JournalFolk Life
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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