Villagers will attempt to bring the weather gods on their side when the infamous JugMen dance out at a charity bash at The Jug & Glass in Lea on Sunday, December 4.
Although the pagan ritual of Morris Dancing is more traditionally performed in spring to ensure the fertility of the year’s crops, local dancers are hoping their religious routines will help ensure there is a white Christmas, bringing snow on Christmas Day.
Skips, sticks, handkies, bells, do-si-dos and a few surprises will be the order of the afternoon, with the JugMen, followed by Crich Brass Band, taking the lead for the singing of traditional Christmas carols. The event skips into action around 3pm.
As usual the JugMen are getting in plenty of practice, with routines and songs being kept a closely guarded secret. The whole event will help raise much-needed community funds, including help for the Dancing with Bridget and Reading with Bridget charities, formed after the passing of Bridget Beedham a year ago from cancer.
The JugMen were formed three years ago after other more established Morris dancers decided it was ‘out of season’ to dance in December.
Jug & Glass landlord Jez Hytch explained: “When we first rang up to book Morris dancers, we were promptly told that it was a no-go because it was out of season. I couldn’t believe it! So one of our locals, Gordon Thorpe, set the challenge to put The Jug’s own side together.”
The first historial reference to this art is back in 1448, but there are more sinister explanations dating back further. Apparently, it was used as a tactic to bring illness to nearby annoying neighbours. Villagers showing the first sign of the bubonic plague were dressed in colourful outlandish custumes with bells strapped to their legs and sent to rival hamlets to perform the ritual, with the key element of waving around their handkerchiefs full of plague infested mucus
But the JugMen villagers have promised that there is nothing threatening about their motives, with neighbouring Crich Brass Band being part of the afternoon, and it is only to ensure a great traditional White Christmas in the Derbyshire hills.