Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Islanders perform 'Hunt the Wren' dance

Hunt the Wren dance
Image caption The custom has been practised in parts of England and France

Islanders have been dancing round a pole with a plastic bird on top to pay homage to an old Manx tradition.

"Hunt the Wren" is a Christmas ritual which stems back to Druid times - the bird would be caught, killed and its feathers distributed for good luck.

Nowadays no poultry comes to harm, instead a fake wren - or even a robin off a Christmas cake - is used and danced round.

Many on the island take part in the dance on the day after Christmas.

The custom is not unique to the island. It is, or has been, carried out in various forms in England, Ireland and as far away as Marseilles in France.

The hunters would suspend their dead quarry on top of a pole decorated with ribbons and evergreen leaves.

It would be taken from house to house where dancing and singing would take place before the feathers were distributed and hopefully some form of financial contribution would be made to the performers.

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