What is Whit Friday ? - A Yank's Honest Question

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Eupher6, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Eupher6

    Eupher6 Member

    Google tells me nothing about the origin of Whit Friday - either that, or it's buried so far in the back as to make it nearly impossible to research.

    I see plenty of information about bands and competitions.

    So please explain - what is Whit Friday? What's the origin of this "holiday"? And why are bands so busy on this day?

    Many thanks for your indulging me. :confused:
  2. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

  3. Eupher6

    Eupher6 Member

  4. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    No, traditionally Whitsuntide is a religous holiday which is related to Easter "Pentecost or Whitsun is observed on the seventh Sunday after Easter. The word Pentecost has its roots in the Greek "pentekoste" meaning the fiftieth day after Easter"

    One of our past governments standardised the holiday period which is now referred to as Spring Bank Holiday and that is fixed in the last week of May whereas Whitsun moves dependant on Easter.

    As to the "marching" bit at Whit Fridays for a lot of the bands it's more of a stroll or stagger dependent on the time of night and amount of beer consummed.;)
  5. Eupher6

    Eupher6 Member

    Ah, thank you for the clarification! I had thought it had something to do with Easter, but I wasn't sure.

    I'll still pass on the marching/staggering. I've had a bellyful of it and I'm done. I just read about the "runner's" job. That would be me! :biggrin:
  6. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    It's the best day of the banding year here by a mile!! Can't believe it took me so many years to realise it went on!!

    The runners job is brilliant...especially when a few bands turn up at a village at the same time!!! It's like a day at the races then!! "And they're off!!" :biggrin:
  7. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    What makes the Whit Friday contests so special (apart from the tradition) is the atmosphere. The crowds are large and supportive of all the bands, be it a big name band, a school band, or a local village band. The fact that bands of all levels of ability take part is another thing that makes Whit Friday so special. Bands travel from all over the country and from overseas to take part (I remember hearing bands from Switzerland and the Netherlands taking part last year). There are also a number of scratch bands formed just to take part in the Whit Friday contests, including, in former years (I don't know about this year) a band made up of brass players from the bands of the various Guards' regiments.

    Incidently, while Whit Friday is not a national holiday, it is still regarded as a holiday in the Saddleworth area, with schools shut for the day.
  8. MaxPressure

    MaxPressure Member

    I thought it started by a yorkshire band who whilst a little bit tipsy, thought it would be a reeeeeaaaaaally good idea for a pub crawl, and the rest of the band, were too far gone to dissagree.
  9. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    For example, our own tMP Band :clap:

    Now, we know what the Whit part means, and we were always pretty sure about the Friday part, but us poor Americans still don't really know what the whole thing is about. So how about a little explanation of what actually happens on the day, from a bander's perspective?
  10. sunny_jimbob

    sunny_jimbob Member

    Drink, have fun, and see people you haven't seen for years.

    Oh and there's some music involved as well every now and then!
  11. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Whit Friday - a Yank's guide

    Here's my understanding of it:

    I think the contests themselves evolved in the 19th century from the tradition of the Whit Walks, which still persists in some parts of Lancs/Yorks/Manchester - essentially a church parade where all the local churches come together to process around the streets and sing hymns. It was a matter of pride for each church to have a band in their part of the parade. Eventually, human nature being what it is, once the parades were done and dusted, competitons were organised between the varying bands to see who could play the best march. All the contests start late afternoon/early evening and essentially they wait for bands to turn up - at peak times there can be 6 or 8 bands queueing at the biggest contests. Most bands book a coach; those out for a good time and a few beers might visit 4 or 5 contests, those with an eye on lots of prizes and iron lips will do as many as 13 or 14. The normal form is that a band arrives, "books in" (i.e. registers with the contest control), forms up and does a short march which is sometimes judged for "deportment" with a separate prize awarded. Once the band gets to the contest area itself - often a field, although a couple of football pitches and a cricket field are used - they stand in band formation and play a contest march of their own choice. Regular favourites include Knight Templar, Ravenswood, The President, etc.. At the most popular contests (e.g Delph, Greenfield) they can get up to 70 bands of all sections and sometimes don't close until the wee small hours. There are usually 3 main prizes and often a few "best 4th section" or "best local band" prizes as well. There was some controversy about bands using "runners" a few years ago - basically someone sent on ahead to book the band in so that they didn't have to queue at the busiest contests. Most contests now don't let you book in unless your coach has actually arrived.

    Apparently the odd beer gets drunk, and occasionally a curry might get eaten as well ;)
  12. NeilW

    NeilW Member

    There is a programme on the BBC this year on the 16th.
    (from: http://www.4barsrest.com/news/detail.asp?id=3398)

    "Whit Friday to hit the airwaves

    The greatest free show in the world is set to make it to the BBC airwaves. About time too...

    'The Greatest Free Show on Show' as the Whit Friday extravaganza is called, is to be featured on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 16th June, 11.00am - 11.30am.

    The programme produced by Testbed Productions in London will focus on the processions in the morning and the band contests at night. ".....

    It SHOULD be available via "listen again" on the BBC website via:
    if you're not up in the middle of the night to catch it in the USA live (via the internet!) or are at work like most of us will be!

    I'm really looking forward to meeting the folk from Glossop Old who I'm playing with this year - unfortunately not that many bands from the south of England (where I live) make their way up as its a couple of hundred miles from here on a workday, so for the last few years I've (and they've!) taken "pot luck" via tMp.... I've never done one of the Whit walks, though - none of the bands I've played with has been involved in one.

    Whit Friday is the end of Whit Week and is 8 weeks after Holy Week - that leads up to Easter.

    [I seem to remember the competitions USED to start much earlier - around mid-day if I remember rightly - and took the afternoon, finishing around the time it gets dark when the pubs were open. Is my memory fading - it was 20 odd years ago...]

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2006
  13. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    Whit Friday is also afaik the ONLY contest where lower section bands can play directly against (including directly before/after) the best bands, where youth bands quite often get a better reception from the audience than the top bands, and the majority are out for enjoyment rather than the result.
    It has an atmosphere all its own which IMO is impossible to put down in words, but which everyone who's ever been knows what it's like.
    I think you can get a DVD of it, but I doubt if even that could convey the sheer atmosphere of some venues. If you have anything to do with brass bands you must go at least once in your life! (and I guarantee you'll want to go again!)
  14. Eupher6

    Eupher6 Member

    It's been delightful reading about this very entertaining tradition. Of course, I'd heard of Whit Friday but never really knew what it was, until now.

    My wife is a certified, card-carrying Anglophile, and we've already talked about making a pilgrimage to the UK - for the express purpose of attending the Last Night of the Proms, cherry-picking a new Besson Prestige for me, and, well, while we're at it, we could just start out at Easter and enjoy the Spring, Whit Friday, and the rest of the Summer.

    Now all I have to do is convince my boss that this is a worthwhile enterprise!
  15. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Well the routes already been set out for you - do you know Pat & Diana Herak? Eupher6 = the new BBCbass:) or BBCbari as was.
  16. Eupher6

    Eupher6 Member

    No, I don't believe I've had the pleasure yet - but we've shared a couple of posts on this forum already.;)

    I'm fairly certain he knows our MD, Dr. Keith Wilkinson. Keith lives in his neck of the woods and makes the weekly 120-mile trek up to Akron for our rehearsal, not to mention gigs, most of which are in this area.

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