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Hodening

HODENING, an ancient Christmas custom still surviving in Wales, Kent, Lancashire and elsewhere. A horse's skull or a wooden imitation on a pole is carried round by a party of youths, one of whom conceals himself under a white cloth to simulate the horse's body, holding a lighted candle in the skull. They make a house-to-house visitation, begging gratuities. The " Penitential " of Archbishop Theodore (d. 690) speaks of " any who, on the kalands of January, clothe themselves with the skins of cattle and carry heads of animals." This, coupled with the fact that among the primitive Scandinavians the horse was often the sacrifice made at the winter solstice to Odin for success in battle, has been thought to justify the theory that hodening is a corruption of Odining.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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