“Corn Rigs are Bonnie”
“It was upon a Lammas night
When corn rigs are bonnie,
Beneath the moon’s unclouded light
I held awa to Annie:”
“Corn rigs an’ barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonnie,
I’ll ne’er forget that happy night
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.”
These lines are taken from a larger poem, one of the earliest works of Robbie Burns, written around 1725 and inspired by either Annie Ronald or Annie Blair.
In olden days before the world wide, interconnectedness of the agricultural system we have today, the seasons of the year revolved around the cycles of planting, growing and harvesting food crops.
Candlemas, February 2, commonly called Groundhog Day was when seeds for the season’s crops were started indoors; and some hardy crops were started outdoors. In Christian tradition Candlemas is known as “the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.””Candlemass” is also the name of a doom metal rock band.
Spring Equinox, March 20, when days were finally longer then nights, was when spring planting began in earnest.
May Day, May 1 was the day farm and field laborers were given a day off to celebrate the end of planting with dancing around the may pole. Today it is often celebrated as an International Laborers Day although in the USA it has been designated since 1958 as Loyalty Day due to the Soviet Unions perceived appropriation of the day as a Soviet holiday.
Lammas day, or in some English speaking countries Loaf-mass day, August 2, is when the first harvests can be expected. In some English speaking countries tenants were expected to give their landlords a gift of newly harvested wheat or a loaf of bread.
All souls day, November 1, or as we call it Halloween, is when all the harvests are done for the year, the fields are empty and dead, and you knew if there was enough food to survive through the winter or would you likely starve.
Beltane, Dec 21 is the winter solstice when the days start getting longer, when the rebirth of the seasons, the return of the sun is celebrated. In many countries today it is called Christmas and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the “Corn Rigs are Bonnie” Robbie Burns is talking about taking his willing girlfriend of the moment into the privacy of the corn fields on a bright moonlit night in mid summer during the celebration of the years first harvest. Young men and women haven’t changed a lot in 275 years.