ONE of Bury's great springtime traditions, based on an ancient pagan ritual, has taken to the streets again.

Bury Pace-Eggers have been out and about in the borough to present their ancient luck-bringing ceremony at a number of venues.

Saturday saw the launch of their tour which is scheduled to finish on Good Friday. Bury Pace- Eggers have chosen Christie Hospital in Manchester as this year's charity and a donation will be made to the cancer treatment centre at the end of their tour.

The Bury troupe has a history going back three decades in their present form. But the performances hark back to pre-Christian pagan rituals. The name comes from Pace, the old Northern dialect word for Easter, understood to be a corruption of the church term "Paschal" - a Pace Egg is nothing more than an Easter egg.

And the tradition of Pace-Egging was originally children asking for Easter eggs from friends and neighbours which developed into the more formal version of the performance given today.

Mr Francis Roe, leader of the Bury Pace-Eggers, says their performance is basically a play which relates the story of Saint George fighting a Turkish warrior called Slasher. "Slasher is involved in a fight with St George and he is killed," explained Mr Roe. "But a doctor brings Slasher back to life and that is the rebirth of spring."

Bury Pace-Eggers has eight members, some of whom have been involved with the troupe since the 1970s. Commenting on the launch of their annual tour on Saturday, the leader added; "We were very well received and had good crowds."