Folkipedia

Get Started

sliki

Hodening

Hodening (Hoodening in Kent), is a tradition that is not just confined to the South East and is possibly one of the oldest celebrations known. It involves animal disguise - a Horse - in a similar fashion to the Hobby Horse. The head is either wood or a real horse skull on a pole and supported by a strong man with a skin or sheet over him. A lightweight member of the troop will 'ride' the horse during the play. The time at which the horse appears varies between All Souls and Whitsun although modern revivals may appear during Summer Festivals. In Cheshire it was reported that at Comberbach, the Hodeners accompanied the Soulers.

The horse was made to be a fearsome sight although its purpose was related to fertility, good luck and plenty. Typically, a Groom led the horse, a rider rode him and a Mollie or Old Woman cleared the way.

In Doncaster, Yorkshire, the Hodeners went around with the Mummers. A skull used in Hodening was reportedly found in a pond at Hooten Pagnell.

It is thought that Hodening relates to the ancient pagan Scandanavian custom of sacrificing horses at the Winter Solstice (to Odin or Woden who rode a horse through the heavens). The celebration involved eating the horse meat and it is thought that the custom became modified as Christianity arrived.