Members of churches from different parts of Ashton process to the town centre, each accompanied by a band. The churches assemble for a united service of witness. Then all the churches walk together around the town centre before splitting and and returning to their starting points.
Other townsfolk turn out to watch the walk and listen to the bands. It is not at all a solemn religious procession - it is a very jolly affair, with the bands playing bright marches and people waving and calling out to other people they know.
In the past, when money was even more scarce than it is now, Whitsun may have been the only time in the year when people got to wear new clothes. This custom actually did have a religious origin, as Whitsun celebrates the time when the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, went out and recruited the first Christians. The new clothes are symbolic of starting a new life.
This year, for a change, Ashton's Whit Walks once again took place on the traditional date of the Sunday after Whit Sunday - but only because that coincided this year with the third Sunday of June, which is now the fixed date for the walks. Nearby Mossley and Saddleworth still have their Whit Walks on the traditional Whit Friday, as reported here yesterday.
Above: Walkers from St Gabriel's Church, Cockbrook. Below: Dobcross Band
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"Whit Walks" is a contribution to ABC Wednesday. For more "W" posts from around the world please follow this link.
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