Crying the Neck

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'Crying The Neck' at St Columb Major, 2008

Crying The Neck is a harvest festival tradition practised in the Duchy of Cornwall, Britain. The tradition was also once popular in the county of Devon, but its practice there has since died out. The tradition was revived in the early twentieth century by the Old Cornwall Society.

In The Story of Cornwall, by Kenneth Hamilton Jenkin, the following explanation is given on the practice:

"In those days the whole of the reaping had to be done either with the hook or scythe. The harvest, in consequence, often lasted for many weeks. When the time came to cut the last handful of standing corn, one of the reapers would lift up the bunch high above his head and call out in a loud voice.....,
"I 'ave 'un! I 'ave 'un! I 'ave 'un!"

The rest would then shout,

"What 'ave 'ee? What 'ave 'ee? What 'ave 'ee?"

and the reply would be:

"A neck! A neck! A neck!"

Everyone then joined in shouting:

"Hurrah! Hurrah for the neck! Hurrah for Mr. So-and-So"

(calling the farmer by name.)"

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