14th April 2014
Greenwich Church St, London SE10 9HY, UK
For the few Londoners who haven’t fled the city for their annual epic traffic jam experience and the savvy tourists who’ve done a bit of homework, there’re plenty of unusual events happening around the city over the Easter holiday to make a small effort for, not all of them involving chocolate or death and resurrection. Easter Monday is, since the demise of the Easter Parades, generally the least eventful day (ok, maybe not everywhere…) – presumably so we can all go shopping – but down in Greenwich an old custom has been revived to provide visitors with some seasonal entertainment to briefly distract from the usual activities.
This is the Chair Lifting (or ‘Chair Heaving’) ceremony, whereby some roguish gentlemen (in this case the Blackheath Morris) entice a young maiden onto a flower bedecked chair, lift her up & (slowly) spin her round in return for a ‘chaste salute’ (I think we can guess what that implies). Quite popular in the eighteenth & early nineteenth centuries, presumably, like most fun things, it didn’t quite adhere to Victorian moral standards and faded out. Apparently the ladies did it to the gents the following day.
Ian visited a few years ago, and there’s more history here. This is not to be confused with the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony (and not to be attempted spontaneously), and Blackheath Morris are not to be confused with the Greenwich Morris, who also dance this neighbourhood. And keeping with the mood, here’s how they do it in Lithuania.