Ram Roasting Fair

Ram Roasting Fair

May-June; Tuesday after Pentecost
The town of Kingsteignton in Devonshire, England, observes an annual custom every year on Whit-Tuesday ( see Whit-Monday) that is said to date back to pre-Christian times, when the village suffered from lack of water. The people prayed to their gods for help, and almost immediately a new spring rose in a meadow nearby. The spring, known as Fair Water, never ran dry, even during the hottest of summers. A live ram was slaughtered as a thanksgiving offering.
After Christianity arrived in Devonshire, a live lamb was carried through the streets on Whit-Monday in a cart covered with lilacs and laburnum, and everyone who met it was asked to contribute something toward the cost of the next day's ceremony. On Tuesday, the ram was killed and roasted whole, and slices of the meat were sold cheaply to the poor.
Today, the people of Kingsteignton still observe the annual ram roasting—usually a deer roasting, because rams are more costly and harder to come by. Local butchers in long white coats turn the spit over a huge log fire, while the crowds amuse themselves with sports and May Day festivities. In the evening, the deer is cut up and distributed to the holders of lucky numbers, since there is not enough meat for everyone.
CONTACTS:
Visit Britain
551 Fifth Ave., Ste. 701
New York, NY 10176
800-462-2748 or 212-850-0330; fax: 212-986-1188
www.visitbritain.com
SOURCES:
EngCustUse-1941, p. 8
YrbookEngFest-1954, p. 241
YrFest-1972, p. 40