A long time ago the year was marked out with special days which marked the passing year. These were days of celebrations where people would do things, eat things or make things which they would not normally do.
See also folk, facts and sayings about March
The Tichborne Dole is one of the eccentric British traditions and dates
back to the thirteenth century. It takes place every year on March 25th the Feast of the Annunciation (Lady’s Day).
The dole was flour and it was given to the poor until 1796. From 1796 Tichborne family have given money to the church
You can read the story behind the tradition on our Folk, Fact and Sayings about March webpage
In the days when the River Thames at London was wider than it is now,
barges carrying oranges and lemons landed just below the churchyard
of St. Clements Dane.
On the last day of March, local primary school
children gather at the church to attend a service. They recite the
famous nursery ' rhyme and, on occasions, play the tune on hand bells.
At the end of the service the children are presented with an orange
and a lemon from a table outside the church .
The nursery rhyme
Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clement’s
You owe me five farthings
Say the bells of St Martin’s
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey
When I grow rich
Say the bells of Shoreditch
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney
I’m sure I don’t know
Says the great bell at Bow
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head
Chop chop chop chop the last man’s head!
Many adults remember this rhyme from playing a playground games:
Two children would form an arch and become the choppers. They secretly decide who would be orange and who would be lemon. A line of other children singing the song would pass under the arch and the child passing when the song goes chop, chop, chop would be caught between the falling arch (arms). The caught child then chooses either orange or lemon and lines behind the child he/she chose. When all children lined behind the choppers they have a tug war.