The Rocking Ceremony

At St Mary’s Blidwoth, Candlemas is celebrated with the Rocking Ceremony – a tradition that is thought to be unique to the village.

The Rocking Ceremony was typical in churches dedicated to St Mary of the Purification all over Europe at one time, but it is believed that Blidworth’s church is the only one in the UK still dedicated to St Mary of the Purification and the only church anywhere continuing with this custom.

Traditionally, the baby boy born closest to Christmas day in the village is rocked in a cradle to re-enact the presentation of Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem. The baby is baptised at St Mary’s Church, often during the Holy Communion Service in the morning and then rocked during the ceremony that afternoon. This year, the Rocking baby name is Freddie Simon Martin.

The cradle is almost two centuries old and Stephen Fox, the flower arranger and a Lay Minister at St Mary’s, has decorated it with fresh flowers for well over 50 years.

The ceremony started in 15th century when Bible stories were acted out for the congregation, but it was banned in the 1600s when villagers used it as an excuse for partying.

While it was revived for a short time in the mid-1800s, it was reintroduced in 1922 by Revd John Lowndes.

Yesterday’s service was led by Bishop’s Chaplain, the Reverend Amanda Lees.

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