bull band n Also bulll-banding chiefly nwMD, c, ePA Note: For more detail on the regional distribution, see the note at rattle band n. old-fash Cf belling vbl n, bull fiddle n 2, bull-roarer n 2, dumb bull n 1, Dutch band n, kettle band n 1
A group of people gathered to create a noisy racket, usu as a mock serenade for a recently married couple; an occasion on which such a serenade is given, shivaree n B1; hence v bull-band to serenade (one) in this way, vbl n bull-banding,agent n bull-bander.
1861 Valley Star (Newville PA) 21 Nov /5, A party of men and boys from the neighborhood of St. Thomas . . went on an expedition, a few miles into the country, to “Bull Band” a wedding party. 1873 Cumberland Alleganian (MD) 19 Nov /2 (newspaperarchive.com), The old-fashioned custom of “bull banding,” as the elegant idiom has it, appears not to have entirely fallen into desuetude even in enlightened Western Maryland. 1885 Millheim Jrl. (PA) 8 Oct /1, Since the first of October the work of the “Bull Band” (as the boys style it) has greatly diminished. 1885 Daily Eve. Sentinel (Carlisle PA) 5 Nov /3, If Woodburn’s vote is over 500 then Strohm will submit to the ordeal. The bet is to be paid on next Saturday evening, when a crowd with a bull band accompaniment will be present to witness fair play and no gouging. 1897 Lebanon Daily News (PA) 23 Mar /5 nePA, The noted “Bull Band” serenaded the newly married couple a short distance north of our village [=Hamlin, Wayne Co.] on Saturday evening. 1907 Eve. Times (Cumberland MD) 9 Sept 2/2, The throng was so dense that it was difficult to see much of the procession. As soon as the line broke, the fantasies [sic for fantastics] formed into squads and each led by a bull band making the most horrible noises, paraded the streets. 1916 DN 4.343 nwMD, Bull band. = Calithumpian band. 1926 Morning Herald (Hagerstown MD) 30 Jan 7/4, Bull banding, an ancient custom in this section, was revived Thursday when Mr. and Mrs. J. Garvin Hager, Jr., who returned several days ago from their honeymoon, were serenaded at Smithsburg. . . The bull banders were invited into the Jaques home, refreshments being served. 1929 Lebanon Daily News & Daily Times (PA) 6 Sept 14/6, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schell of . . Myerstown . . , who were recently married . . , were “bull banded” by a number of their friends in this city and Myerstown on Thursday evening. After the serenade the party was treated to a delicious lunch. 1935 AmSp 10.171 sePA, Bull-banding is at present the generally accepted name for a serenade for a newly-married couple; a shivaree, or callithumpian. 1949 Kurath Word Geog. 78, Bull band, bull banding in the German settlements of the Great Valley of Pennsylvania [for the serenading of newlyweds]. 1968 DARE (Qu. AA18, . . A noisy neighborhood celebration after a wedding, where the married couple is expected to give a treat) Inf MD21, Bull band (used to have this—no longer); MD27, Bull band. 1970 DARE FW Addit cePA, Bull banding. 1985 AmSp 60.231 sePA, Bull band(ing)—Visit paid to a couple on their wedding night during which much noise and heckling occur. . . All four informants [of 60 total in Lancaster, Lebanon, York, and Dauphin Cos.] who circled the latter variant [=bull band(ing)] are middle-aged residents of Lebanon County. 1985 Morning Call (Allentown PA) 7 Mar sec A 19/6, [Letter:] Nostalgia! The last time I heard a “bull band” was on June 26, 1945. . . It was my wedding day.