Celebrating Tynwald Day: The Isle of Man's Special Traditions

Celebrating Tynwald Day: The Isle of Man's Special Traditions

On the 5th of July, our Manx National Day, a time-honoured ceremony has stood steadfast for over a millennium. The annual outdoor sittings of Tynwald (the Manx Parliament), are a living legacy of the Viking settlements dating from the eighth century AD. As one of the longest, continuous running parliaments in the world, this ceremony, though evolved in details, remains a poignant reminder of the Isle of Man's rich heritage and folklore. One of the most cherished customs is the wearing of bollan bane pinned to the chest, a tradition that many uphold with pride. But how many know of the origins and significance of this age-old practice?

The Protective Powers of Bollan Bane

Bollan bane, or mugwort (white wort), is more than just a decorative herb. Historically, it is believed to possess powers to ward off evil spirits. On the Island, this is of particular concern due to the presence of "Themselves"—the fairies—who are known to bring misfortune to those who fall out of their favour. Wearing bollan bane is a symbolic gesture to protect oneself from these unseen entities.

The Path of Rushes

Another visible and symbolic tradition on Tynwald Day is the path strewn with rushes between the Tynwald Hill and the church. This custom harks back to the practice of presenting rushes to Manannan, the ancient sea god believed to be the Island's first ruler. On the eve of Midsummer 5th July (by the old calendar), a member from each household would take rushes up South Barrule, offering them as the annual rent to Manannan for the privilege of living on his land.

The Holy Well of Marown

While some customs are making a comeback, others remain a charming part of the less know Island's folklore. One such tradition is the visit to a holy well in Marown on old Midsummers eve (4th July). The ritual involved walking clockwise around the well while holding its water in your mouth, then wetting a piece of cloth torn from your dress and tying it to a nearby tree. This act was believed to bring fertility. Though this particular practice may be less likely to see a revival, it remains a fascinating glimpse into the Island’s cultural and spiritual heritage.

A Day of Heritage and Celebration

Whether you choose to don the protective bollan bane, join the crowds watching our open air Tynwald Ceremony following a thousand year old tradition, walk the rush-strewn path, or simply enjoy the festivities, Tynwald Day is a celebration of the Isle of Man's unique traditions and folklore. It’s a day that connects us to our roots, reminding us of the stories and customs that have shaped our identity.

So, however you mark this special day, we wish you a wonderful Tynwald Day filled with joy, tradition, and perhaps a touch of Manx magic.

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