Customs of the Morris

Each morris team can be easily identified by its unique dancing uniform, or `kit’. Pokingbrook dances in baldricks (crossed straps) of green cloth, with an elaborate embroidered medallion.


Pokingbrook men. Back, L-R: Ardal Powell, Bill Newman, David Barnert, Larry Syzdek, Lawrence Eger, Bob Weissberg, Craig Brandon Front: Collin Bobbitt, Bob Ahlers. Gone for more beer: Jeff Ostertag.

Green is the color of new growth and the ancient symbol of youth and change, while Red is a sun color. White shirts and colorful hats denote festivity. The bells, which are most characteristic of Cotswold Morris dancers, keep the rhythmic character of the dance as they embody the magic of the dance itself. The sounds of bells and clashing staves are meant to drive winter from the ground and ensure a bountiful harvest.

Along with the dancers, most teams have a cast of magical characters. These include the Fool, an animal or Hobbyhorse, an occasional visit by the Green Man, musicians, and a Cake Lady. The Fool is the prime link between the dancers and the onlookers. Pokingbrook’s animal is the Unicorn, an ancient symbol of purity.

Unicorn, Virgin, Cake, and Sword

Unicorn, Virgin, Cake, and Sword

The Cake Lady brings the spirit of Morris to the audience by asking them to share in the dance magic. The ancient magic of the Morris cake brings good luck to all who partake of it, but only for one year. You must partake of the magic again next year by searching out the Morris dancers.

Custom has it that donations put into the upturned hat that passes among the Morris audience provide good luck to the contributor for the coming year. The dances belong to the community and are developed and passed on season after season. Donations help to cover the costs for this community rite.