|Cider Press from Smith Hayne Farm, Devon - Richard Human [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
"There are some slight differences in performing the ceremony. I have seen this done in the neighbourhood of Newton Abbot, at a farm situated on the western slope of Haldon. All the reapers (between twenty and thirty) formed a semicircle, with the farmer in their midst, and the ladies of the family close at hand. The head man held the "neck" above his head, and waved it quickly to and fro, and gave the first shout of " a-neck ! a-neck !"
The rest took up the cry and waved their sickles. After this the cyder-firkin was passed round from mouth to mouth. Then a start was made for the farmer's kitchen, where a substantial supper of beef, pork, vegetables, figgy-pudden, cream, junkets, and gallons of cyder awaited the hungry reapers. When justice had been done to the viands, tobacco and long churchwardens (clay pipes) were produced. More and much cyder at last provoked merriment and indescribable tumult. Some recounted their experiences in winter by flood, snowstorm, and hurricanes. Others their interviews with the Dowl on lonely hills, their wanderings over swampy meadows in the footsteps of Jack-o-lantern. Others their efforts to resist the evil eye, and the malignant devices of the witch. Some sung delightful old songs (specimens of which will be found at the end of this book) ; and not until the daylight streamed through the diamond-shaped window-panes did they seek their beds. I should say that the wives and elder children of the men were also partakers of the harvest-supper. The neck is carried into the house and hung over the centre of the kitchen table for a year, and when replaced by the new neck it is given to the best beast in the stall."