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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Homer Sykes: Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs

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Homer Sykes 
Caking Night, Dungworth, Yorkshire, England 
[Country Customs] 
Gelatin silver print 
Provided by the artist - Homer Sykes 
© Homer Sykes 
By wearing masks and fancy dress, competitors at the Caking Night ceremony at the Royal Hotel Dungworth (a small village on the outskirts of Sheffield) conceal their identity. The custom traditionally took place on November 1st. Caking Night no longer takes place at the Royal Hotel and has not done so for a long time. In this once popular local tradition the dead visited their former homes and partook of the food of the living. Associated with the Christian calendar, All Souls Day, and in part with a pagan past, the ceremony no longer exists. Until the mid 20th century, "cakers" would visit local neighbourhoods where the householders tried to guess their identity. If unidentified they received a small sum of money, but if they were recognised they were given a piece of home made Parkin cake. In this picture taken in 1974 the judging had taken place. This participant was still not revealing his identity but was supping a pint of beer through a straw.
This photograph was included in the book by Homer Sykes "Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs" (Gordon Faser, 1977) 
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