The Dorset Ooser is a wooden head that featured in the nineteenth-
century folk culture of Melbury Osmond, a village in the southwestern
English county of Dorset. The head was hollow, thus perhaps serving as a
mask, and included a humanoid face with horns, a beard, and a hinged
jaw. Although sometimes used to scare people during practical jokes, its
main recorded purpose was as part of a local variant of the custom known
as “rough music”, in which it was used to humiliate those who were
deemed to have behaved in an immoral manner. It was first brought to
public attention in 1891, when it was owned by the Cave family of
Melbury Osmond’s Holt Farm, but it went missing around 1897. In 1975 a
replica of the original Ooser was produced by John Byfleet, which has
since been on display at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester. This mask
retains a place in Dorset folk culture, and is used in local Morris
dancing processions held by the Wessex Morris Men on Saint George’s Day
and May Day. The design of the Ooser has inspired copies used as
representations of the Horned God in the modern Pagan religion of Wicca
in both the United Kingdom and United States.
Today’s selected anniversaries:
On James Cook’s second voyage, his ship HMS Resolution became
the first to cross the Antarctic Circle.
Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition reached
the South Pole, only to find that Roald Amundsen’s team had beaten them
by 33 days.
The United Nations Security Council, the organ of the United
Nations charged with the maintenance of international peace and
security, held its first meeting at Church House in London.
Three days before leaving office, U.S. President Dwight D.
Eisenhower delivered a farewell speech to the nation, in which he warned
about the dangers of the military–industrial complex.
The first spate of violence between Muslims and Christians
began in Jos, Nigeria, and would end in more than 200 deaths.
Wiktionary’s word of the day:
(slang) A punch to the face, especially to the mouth.
Wikiquote quote of the day:
It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed
us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear
that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country. Our
hope that if we work hard enough and believe in ourselves, then we can
be whatever we dream, regardless of the limitations that others may
place on us. The hope that when people see us for who we truly are,
maybe, just maybe they, too, will be inspired to rise to their best
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