What does “Calling the Mare” mean?

In Medieval England, September was always known as the Harvest month, and as the many farmers would gather in the last of their crops, trying to prove that they had reaped the best crops they would try and beat their neighbouring farmers to complete the work first.

chestnut mare and foal
Image source: thehorse.com
There was a fun ceremony known as “Calling the Mare” and this involved quickly gathering the last sheaf of the harvest and shaping it into a mare shape, then delivering it to the neighbouring farmers land, shouting “Mare, Mare”.

This was supposed to signify that wild horses would come and eat their harvest if they didn’t gather it in quickly.

Once the receiving farmer had finished gathering his crop, he would pass it onto the next farmer who had not finished until it reached the last farmer.

This last farmer would then have to keep the “Mare” on display for a year to show that he was the slowest farmer.

Similarly, corn dolls were also weaved into shapes and placed in the corn fields as farmers believed that these corn dolls were the spirit of the corn goddess.

It was believed that if you did not place a corn doll in your fields the corn goddess would die and so would your crops.

So now you know what the term “Calling the Mare” means and that it comes from an old farming tradition.