My cousin just provided the link so I could see the 2010 parade in Tideswell, the small town in Derbyshire, England, where my father was born. He left to join the navy when he was 17 and returned only for the rare visit. My mother kept up the communication with his family, and so I knew about Wakes Week and the annual dressing of the well, a holiday celebrated on June 24 each year, which is St. John the Baptist Day and my friend Mary Flowers' birthday.
I just learned here that the custom of well-dressing is peculiar to Derbyshire. Here's a bit of information:
"This ancient custom is only found in Derbyshire and is the art of decorating springs and wells with pictures made from natural materials. Four wells are dressed in the centre of Tideswell. Wells have been dressed at Tideswell since 1946. Refreshments are available around the village.
"Well locations: Fountain Square – main Well; Church Yard – Three wells dressed by Scouts, Guides and Tideswell School."
One participant posits that the custom of well dressing is a "Christianised vestige of early ritual celebrating the healing miracle of clean water" -- and it's not hard to imagine the custom having developed while the area was still pagan. Bless the water, which, as we in America are becoming more and more aware, is life.
Clean water. Potable water. Water close by. Water not contaminated by coal ash or pesticides.
Women still want clean water, which takes us back to the well dressings in Derbyshire. Here are a few photos:
|The 2011 Tideswell well dressing|
|England faces the same crisis with small post offices that we are in the U. S.|