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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales

Corn Dollies
and other harvest traditions and customs


The making of corn dollies goes back many thousands of years. It was a Pagan custom and evolved from the beliefs of the corn growing people who believed in the Corn Spirit.

corn dolly
corn dolly
corn dolly
corn dolly

What were corn dollies traditionally made from?

Corn dollies were made at Harvest time from the last sheaf of corn cut.

corn dolly

The Corn Spirit was supposed to live or be reborn in the plaited straw ornament or corn doll and was kept until the following spring to ensure a good harvest. The corn dolly often had a place of honour at the harvest banquet table.

corn dollycorn dolly

The craft was brought to a halt by the advent of mechanization in the 1800s, but is now being revived as a fascinating hobby.

corn dolly

corn dolly

corn dollies

Other harvest rituals and ceremonies

In the past .....

Church bells could be heard on each day of the harvest.

The horse, bringing the last cart load, was decorated with garlands of flowers and colourful ribbons.

A magnificent Harvest feast was held at the farmer's house and games played to celebrate the end of the harvest.

Harvest homepageCorn dollies

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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