Yarrow - a love herb

Enid Porter, Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore

Evelyn Simak www.geograph.org.uk

Girls of the Littleport Fens, until the end of the 19th century, placed great faith in yarrow (Achillea millefolium) as a love herb, recalled W.H. Barrett. They pinned bunches of the flowers on their dresses and seized every opportunity to get as near as possible to the young men they favoured to show they were declaring their love by means of their buttonholes. If a girl found that the lad she wished to marry ignored the hint, then she would wait for a full moon, and at midnight, go to a patch of yarrow and walk barefooted among the flowers. After this she would shut her eyes, bend down and pick a bunch and, on returning home, put the flowers under her bed or in a drawer. If she found at dawn that the dew was still on the yarrow, then she was content – her young man would begin to court her in earnest. If, on the other hand, the flowers were dry, then the ritual would have to be repeated at the next full moon.

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