YO! Liverpool
Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Judas Burning - The Liverpool Good Friday tradition

  1. #1
    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Under The Stairs >> Under The Mud.
    Posts
    7,489
    Thanks
    11
    Thanked 13 Times in 11 Posts
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default Judas Burning - The Liverpool Good Friday tradition



    The Liverpool Good Friday tradition of burning an effigy of Judas around the streets of Dingle and Toxteth was unique in the U.K. Every Good Friday in the first half of the twentieth century the streets of Dingle and Toxteth would ring to the noise of running feet, cries of ‘Judas’ and the crackling sound of burning. The custom of burning an effigy of Judas at Easter was common in Greece, Spain and Mexico. There’s little record of the tradition taking place in the U.K. apart from in Liverpool, even then it was confined to a small area of streets in one area. David Glyn Hughes recalls the tradition during his childhood in the 1930’s. “I was born in 1928 and my childhood up to the blitz was spent living in a two-up-two-down in one of the streets leading down to Grafton Street from Cockburn Street in Toxteth. I remember that we used to get up early on Good Friday morning and “burn Judas” up against the wall of some building.”

    The tradition of Judas burning was very parochial and many people from neighbouring districts were unaware of it. The practice generally involved children aged between 8-12 years old who would collect and store wood in the weeks preceding Easter and build an effigy of a human figure, along the same lines as that of Guy Fawkes. The ‘Judas’ would have to be hidden away from rival gangs who would attempt to steal the effigy. The ritual would begin early in the day. In her 1992 book ‘Confessions of a Judas Burner’, Carole Sexton describes that “Mrs Lympany who lived in Lothian Street recalls her two elder sisters going out at 4am around 1914 carrying a burning torch and running through the streets shouting ‘Burn Judas’.” Children would parade the Judas as they ran through the streets asking for contributions with the cry of ‘A penny for Judas’s breakfast.’ The Judas would then be burnt on a local waste ground. Sometimes a pig’s bladder would also form part of the ritual. The bladder would be purchased from a local butcher, inflated and then tied with string before being attached to a stick. The bladder would be used to beat the Judas and often other children too. Authorities intervene The police and fire brigade would often attempt to thwart the burnings as David Glyn Hughes says “Of course it would not be long before the police would be around putting out the fire and picking on one or two of the boys, it was always boys in my memories of these events, and chasing them through the streets.

    "I can't remember which year it was. I was simply watching these other lads burning their "Judas" when two policemen arrived, would you believe - on a motorcycle and sidecar! We all scattered but for some reason they decided to chase me.

    "I was running along the jigger behind Cockburn Street toward my back entry between Draycott and Charlecote Streets where I would be home. Because every time the police came to a street to cross they had to stop to make sure nothing was coming down the street, I was able to keep ahead of them. I turned down my back entry without them seeing which of the back doors I had turned into. The dog in the yard next to mine kicked up a shindig and I heard the police open that back door, saw I wasn't in that yard and decided to call it a day. Was I relieved! I don't think my parents ever knew that I had been involved."

    Local residents would often leave their front doors ajar so fleeing children could hide inside. Most people recall that the fun would generally be over by noon, with mid morning the popular time for fires to be lit.

    One explanation for the development of Judas Burning was that sailors from Greece, Spain and Portugal would carry out the ritual on their ships. This was witnessed by the local children who then took up the custom themselves.

    In Liverpool it seems to have been in existence from the late 19th Century although it was most prevalent in the years between the two world wars. There are reports of Judas Burning taking place as late as the 1950’s.


    ADVERTISING




    Do you have recollections of Judas burning? Have you heard stories about it? Add your comments here.

    Source
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

    All server & domain costs are covered by myself & kind donations of individuals.

    If you like the website, please donatevia PayPal!




    Thank you


    Kev
    2005 - 2017

  2. #2
    Gnomie
    Guest Gnomie's Avatar

    Default

    Thats a great story.

    I had relatives from Northumberland Street and Beaufort Street. I wonder if they did it?


    Heres one for them

  3. #3
    Too old to suffer sweetpatooti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Garston
    Posts
    145
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    My chap's an old Dingle lad - we used to live there - I will ask his family if they remember it.

  4. #4
    FKoE
    Guest FKoE's Avatar

    Default

    Nice one Kev.

  5. #5
    Member Soreofhing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    40
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Judas burning

    I live in Mexico and last Easter we were in the beautiful city of San Luis Potosi where we saw the still common Judas burning.
    Larger than lifesize papier mache figures are brightly painted and then burnt in a ritual cleansing of evil, accompanied with firework displays.
    Judas is usually portrayed as a devil complete with horns and tail but very often other more modern "devils" are portrayed including local politicians and even George Bush.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    3,592
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Hi Kev

    This is completely new information to me. First time I have heard of it. My maternal grandfather grew up on Merlin Street and Beaufort

    Street in Toxteth. I wonder if he knew about it or ever engaged in it?

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

  7. #7
    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,924
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    Blog Entries
    22

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    Hi Kev

    This is completely new information to me. First time I have

    heard of it. My maternal grandfather grew up on Merlin Street and Beaufort Street in Toxteth. I wonder if he knew about it or ever engaged in

    it?

    Chris
    It was introduced by Portuguese and Spanish sailors in the 1800s who berthed in the south ends docks. It was only

    applicabale to the south end of the city and only around Toxteth and predominantly the dock area. Few people living outside had ever heard of it. The

    bonfires were set alight at dawn when it was dark on Good Friday and by noon it was all over. The last of it centred around Toxteth St and the very last was

    conducted by my cousin, Alan Rietdyk on waste ground between Prophet St and Northumberland St in around 1970-71.

    Strangely his brother David, was in

    charge of the slipways at Lairds, and put the last vessel in the water - a submarine.
    The new Amsterdam at Liverpool?
    Save Liverpool Docks and Waterways - Click

    Deprived of its unique dockland waters Liverpool
    becomes a Venice without canals, just another city, no
    longer of special interest to anyone, least of all the
    tourist. Would we visit a modernised Venice of filled in
    canals to view its modern museum describing
    how it once was?


    Giving Liverpool a full Metro - CLICK
    Rapid-transit rail: Everton, Liverpool & Arena - CLICK

    Save Royal Iris - Sign Petition

  8. #8
    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    3,592
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Waterways View Post
    It was introduced by Portuguese and Spanish sailors in the 1800s who berthed

    in the south ends docks. It was only applicabale to the south end of the city and only around Toxteth and predominantly the dock area. Few people living

    outside had ever heard of it. The bonfires were set alight at dawn when it was dark on Good Friday and by noon it was all over. The last of it centred

    around Toxteth St and the very last was conducted by my cousin, Alan Rietdyk on waste ground between Prophet St and Northumberland St in around

    1970-71.

    Strangely his brother David, was in charge of the slipways at Lairds, and put the last vessel in the water - a

    submarine.
    Thank you for that additional information, Waterways.

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

  9. #9
    PhilipG
    Guest PhilipG's Avatar

    Default

    There is a Dingle Historical Society.
    Actually they're pensioners who use the occasion as a weekly coffee morning, but some of them

    remembered the Judas Burnings.
    Like other "immigrants" to the Dingle I'd never heard of it before.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,924
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    Blog Entries
    22

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipG View Post
    There is a Dingle Historical Society.
    Actually they're pensioners who use

    the occasion as a weekly coffee morning, but some of them remembered the Judas Burnings.
    Like other "immigrants" to the Dingle I'd never heard of it

    before.
    My cousin who did the very last is in his 40s.
    The new Amsterdam at Liverpool?
    Save Liverpool Docks and Waterways - Click

    Deprived of its unique dockland waters Liverpool
    becomes a Venice without canals, just another city, no
    longer of special interest to anyone, least of all the
    tourist. Would we visit a modernised Venice of filled in
    canals to view its modern museum describing
    how it once was?


    Giving Liverpool a full Metro - CLICK
    Rapid-transit rail: Everton, Liverpool & Arena - CLICK

    Save Royal Iris - Sign Petition

  11. #11
    Help find Madeleine Sloyne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    238
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Waterways View Post
    It was only applicabale to the south end of the city and only around Toxteth and predominantly the

    dock area. Few people living outside had ever heard of it.
    Not quite so Waterways, we kids in my neighbourhood (bottom end of Scotland Road) would,

    starting on the Monday of Holy week, parade an effigy of Judas, just like a "Guy" on Guy Fawkes night and beg a "Penny for his soul, Judas!". Or, "A penny

    for the soul of Judas". We would share out the money on Goodfriday afternoon at 3:00pm, the supposed time that Christ died on the cross, and burn "Judas" in

    effigy on a bonfire. The time frame would have been the late forties and early fifties. I will assume that we got the tradition from the generation before

    mine, where they got it from I don't know.

  12. #12
    Senior Member marky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    1,093
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    I wonder if this tradition will ever be revived...there are enough candidates for the Judas effigy. The latest Easter bonfire I heard about was '75/76 by kids in the Dingle Blocks.

  13. #13
    Re-member Ged's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Here, there & everywhere.
    Posts
    7,198
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 7 Times in 5 Posts

    Default

    Phew, just got in after being legged by the bizzies....

    hang on a mo (the scouse Indian Chief) - till I get my breath back....


    Yeah, just back from the oller behind Bleak House

    Gizza glass o'water will yer.
    www.inacityliving.piczo.com/

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

  14. #14
    Senior Member verdi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    68
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    No Judas burnings here? Long since died away, smoke free!! In the Readers Digest book of Folklore and Myths, it says Liverpool is the only city in Britain that did this, it says the Catholic areas, but we were Proddys! Hey up here's the fire brigade! ' now dodge the army!'

  15. #15
    Newbie Roscoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    16
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Burning Judas

    As a Dingle lad I remember staying up all night as with bonfire night to save other kids nicking our wood the eve before Good Friday. As the area was slowly "decanted" in the mid 1970's the tradition faded away, but not the memories.

    My belated apologies to the residents of the Dingle for nicking a bottle of their milk from thier door steps in the early morning after staying up all night.

    Roscoe

  16. #16
    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    3,592
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Roscoe View Post
    As a Dingle lad I remember staying up all night as with bonfire night to save other kids nicking our wood the eve before Good Friday. As the area was slowly "decanted" in the mid 1970's the tradition faded away, but not the memories.

    My belated apologies to the residents of the Dingle for nicking a bottle of their milk from thier door steps in the early morning after staying up all night.

    Roscoe
    Hi Roscoe

    A great memory. Thanks for sharing it with us. Also thanks for the belated apology, you bad lad.

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

  17. #17
    Help find Madeleine Sloyne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    238
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    Do you have recollections of Judas burning?
    WE would carry his effigy from street to street with the cry; "Penny for his soul JUDAS". We would use any money collected to buy hot cross buns from the bakery. I was raised at the bottom of Scotland Road.
    Help find Madeleine

  18. #18
    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    3,592
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sloyne View Post
    WE would carry his effigy from street to street with the cry; "Penny for his soul JUDAS". We would use any money collected to buy hot cross buns from the bakery. I was raised at the bottom of Scotland Road.
    Hi Sloyne

    That's very interesting because I thought it was stated that the tradition was confined to a small area of the Dingle. It's nice to know that the custom was more widespread.

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

  19. #19
    Still alive snappel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    620
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Did people shout "Eee! Grass!" at the effigy as it went past?

  20. #20
    Senior Member xkopite's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    145
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    My dad was born in 1923 in Northumberland Buildings in Northumberland Street and he often told me about it.
    He and his mates would get someones judas and set it alight, they would then run through the back entrys dragging the burning judas and shouting burn judas.
    My dad god bless him often told me about his childhood, these memories of him keep me close to him.

Similar Threads

  1. Philharmonic Hall Hope Street Liverpool Burning Down!
    By Kev in forum Liverpool City Center Architecture
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-25-2011, 10:35 AM
  2. Burning Judas
    By squiggs in forum Liverpool Memories
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 03-23-2011, 05:11 PM
  3. Judas
    By mickeydoolan in forum Liverpool Folklore and Oddities
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 03-21-2011, 12:11 PM
  4. Good Friday
    By gillian in forum Liverpool People Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-16-2006, 07:15 PM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

For daily updates, to support us further or to join in the conversation: Follow us on Twitter @YOLiverpool / Like our Facebook Page: @yoliverpoolpics / Join the Facebook Group: YO! Liverpool Pictures

× Thanks for coming to the web site. Support our future by turning off your Ad-Blocker or consider a donation via PayPal or Credit Card!