Whit Week is here and that can mean only one thing…hmmmm…I wonder what that could be? If this was the early twentieth-century in Manchester, England, odds are it would mean donning a new white dress and marching in a Whit week procession like the ladies pictured above.
Since the demise of the Whit Monday bank holiday in the UK in 1967 and Ireland in 1973, I am not sure how much attention is paid to the week following Pentecost (read more about Whitsun by clicking here.)
This photo of a Whit Week parade appears on a postcard from the early twentieth century, and survives in a small collection of photos and cards that belonged to my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan (born in Kildare, emigrated to Minnesota 1899.) With no postmark, no address, and rather ambiguous greeting and signature (both are Push), this little card is a bit puzzling. My best guess is that the card came to Annie from her younger sister Bridget Hill Reynolds of Manchester, England. From what I have read, processions like this were more popular in England, and the postcard mentions “our Maggie” – Bridget had a daughter named Maggie, who eventually emigrated to America joining her Aunt Annie in Minnesota.
The card mentions looking forward to a visit “next year.” I wonder if Annie ever did travel from Minnesota to Manchester, England to visit her sister’s family? Did she return home to Ireland on this visit? I have searched for possible documentation of such a journey, but so far have come up empty. I will have to keep at it and see what I can find.
Maybe you can help me figure this photo out…
- Have you seen Push as a nickname or slang in correspondence from the early 20th century?
- Do the dresses provide a more concrete date to this photo?
- Is Whitsun or Whit Week still observed in Ireland and England?
Any ideas? Please leave a comment!
Have a good week!
November 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm
My mother was born and raised in Manchester until she met and married my Dad in 1953. He was in the USAF and stationed at Burton Wood. Whit Week was a wonderful celebration with every parish “walking” for miles to the center of town. Practically everyone in Manchester turned out to watch the parade. There was often a good booze up as well. I still have some family in England and from what I hear Whit Week is still observed although it’s not the same anymore. It’s a shame – nothing lasts forever, or as my mother would say today, “there’s nothing nice anymore”.
December 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm
Thank you so much for the information! Judging from the postcard I have, it looked to be quite a big deal. I agree that it is a shame to see the traditions die out, or morph into something alltogether different. Thanks for the comment!
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June 13, 2011 at 8:43 am
Your post as always interesting and thought provoking.