Petronel - a 15th century firearm fired with the butt resting on the chest.
Petronella was a lesser French saint. I don't know what she was 'patron' of.
Perhaps someone can add to this.
The dance immigrated to the colonies and is still done at contra dances. The
only variation is that at the end of the down the middle and up there is a
cast off, followed by right and left. The tune played is always Petronella,
followed by Green Mountain Petronella.
About 25 years ago a variation appeared wherein the 2nd couple began to join
in and the formation was like Lea Rigg. This has just about totally
superceded the original. Sometimes it is referred to as the citronella
If you want to vary the variation, and you have very competent dancers, the
twos can turn to their left while the ones turn to the right. Takes
coordination, and decisions on who will go inside and who will go outside.
This variation doesn't work too well for the Scots because of having to
fiddle with one's feet to go left.
There is another version, rarely done, with the setting first, followed by
the turning. The Green Mountain Petronella tune fits this version perfectly.
In my opinion it's a great dance, not done often enough.
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, NH