taking our culture forward

Resources for the White Boys now online

Thu, 14 Dec 2017

An essential part of the traditional Manx calendar has now been added to the Culture Vannin website: The White Boys.

This traditional Manx 'mumming' play could once have been seen on the streets of Manx towns all over the Island during the Christmas period. Although it would not have been performed to any stable script, but it always included a few key elements: saints, a fight, a death, a resurrection thanks to 'the Doctor' and a happy ending. A number of scripts and extracts extist dating back as far as 1832, but perhaps the best known today will be the version printed in Rinkaghyn Vannin in 1983.

The play included a special White Boys' Carol, and it was concluded with a sword-dance finishing with the distinctive holding aloft of the swords interlocked into a hexagonal star.

Although the dance is performed regularly by some of the Island's Manx dance groups, the play is rarely seen today. We hope to help change this, by enabling more people to take up the tradition through the creation of a new page in our Manx Year section of the website for the White Boys, to provide information, materials and some videos relating to the tradition.

To start the page off we have been able to upload the most important elements; a script of the play and the instructions for the dance. These have been reproduced from Rinkaghyn Vannin thanks to the kindness and generosity of the publishers, Sleih gyn Thie. We have also been able to upload a video of Bree dancers performing the dance at the Bree Workshop Weekend in 2016.

We hope to add to these resources over the coming months and years, with the hope that people will use them to help bring this great Manx tradition into prominance again.

The page can be found here: The White Boys