Keaw Yed Wakes Festival

Keaw Yed Wakes Festival

Sunday of or following August 24
Keaw Yed means "cow's head" in Lancastrian dialect, and Wakes refers to the annual feast held in Westhoughton, Lancashire, on the Sunday of or following St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24 ( see Bartholomew Fair).
Dating back more than 400 years, the Wakes started out as a religious festival featuring a grand rushbearing procession in which a cart filled with new rushes, to replace those used in the church pews, moved through the town, ending up at the church where special services were held. After the sermon, the children were given "rush money" to spend at the fair.
But over time, the rushbearing ceremony faded and the festival became primarily an opportunity for merrymaking. ( See also Rushbearing Festival.) The foods traditionally served at the festival included pork pasties and frumenty (also called furmenty or furmety), a porridge made from boiled wheat seasoned with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.
There have been several attempts to explain the association of the cow's head with the Wakes. One story says that some of the town's wealthier citizens donated a cow to be publicly roasted and distributed to the poor. But rivalry between two factions in town led to a brawl, and the cow's head went to the victors, who were then referred to as "Keaw Yeds" by their rivals.
SOURCES:
YrbookEngFest-1954, p. 114