Yorkshire Day


August 1st. A new month. Here in UK it’s Yorkshire Day.

What are the origins of Yorkshire day?

Yorkshire Day was first celebrated in 1975 by the Yorkshire Ridings Society, beginning as part of a protest movement against local government reforms that came into force in 1974

The date alludes to the Battle of Minden, and also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, for which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, campaigned.

Dr Henry Irving, Senior Lecturer in Public History at Leeds Beckett University said: “Yorkshire Day is a relatively recent tradition.

“It began as a defiant way to celebrate the county’s history and heritages. Government changes abolished Yorkshire’s three traditional ‘Ridings’ and saw parts of the historic county transferred to Humberside and Lancashire.

“The day has a wider cultural value, as it gives the people of Yorkshire a chance to reflect on their heritage, and it’s a great opportunity to increase tourism and investment in Britain’s largest historic county.

“The fact that Yorkshire Day is still celebrated demonstrates the local pride and a particular Yorkshire ingenuity.”

How is it celebrated?

Typically Yorkshire Day involves eating a large amount of traditional Yorkshire food, but there are also some traditional customs which take place.

This year I celebrated by visiting Nunnington Hall and joining in with the festivities which include Morris dancing.

Leeds Morris Men at Nunnington Hall – Photography SJ Butler

WHAT IS MORRIS DANCING

There are many theories about the history of Morris dancing but whatever your viewpoint there is evidence that it has been around in England for many centuries often linked to seasonal celebrations such as the return of Spring and new growth, or at the return of the sun following the Winter solstice. The Morris dances of the Cotswolds, which we perform, are springtime dances. The wearing of brightly-coloured clothing, bells and waving of handkerchiefs celebrate the return of new growth or to ward off evil spirits.

Stick dances represent mock battles , and this again may be derived from a symbolic battle between Winter and Spring, Good and Evil, or Life and Death.  It is not known when dancing became a part of these annual celebrations but clear references to dancing can be traced to the Middle Ages and by the 16th century the Morris was recognisably beginning to assume the form in which it has come down to us today.

I like to give an insight into things that I see and photograph, it makes things that we see more interesting and knowledgeable, or it does to me anyway.

Images from National Trust Nunnington Hall. I love the structure of and that they have left part of the wall for you you to look at.

I also visited the gorgeous exhibition of works by Catherine Rayner. It’s so nice to be able to go and visit exhibitions again. They inspire me and sometimes help me with new inspiration for my own work.


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