British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Oct. 31.]                          hallow eve.                                  395-
the rowan-tree (mountain-ash) are of a brilliant red. The point of the fiery stick waved rapidly takes the appearance of a " red thread."
The ancient custom of providing children with a large apple on Allhallows Eve is still observed to a great extent at St. Ives. " Allan Day," as it is termed, is the day of days to hundreds of children who would deem it a great mis­fortune were they to go to bed on Allan night without the time honoured allau-apple to hide beneath their pillows. A large quantity of apples are thus disposed of, the sale of which is dignified by the term Allan Market.—Hunt's Romances of the West of England, 1871, p. 388.
In Lancashire, says Hampson (Med. Mm Kalend. vol. i. p. 365), it was formerly believed that witches assembled on this night to do "their deeds without a name," at their general rendezvous in the forest of Pendle, a ruined and desolate farmhouse, denominated the Malkin Tower, from the awful purposes to which it was devoted. This superstition led to a ceremony called lating, or perhaps leeting the witches. It was believed that, if a lighted candle were carried about the fells or hills from eleven till twelve o'clock at night, and burned all that time steadily, it had so far triumphed over the evil power of the witches, who, as they passed to the Malkin Tower, would employ their utmost efforts to ex­tinguish the light, and the person whom it represented might safely defy their malice during the season; but if by accident the light went out, it was an omen of evil to the luckless wight for whom the experiment was made. It was-also deemed inauspicious to cross the threshold of that person until after the return from leeting, and not then unless the candle had preserved its light.—See Year Book, 1838, p. 1276.
Isle of Man.
This festival, called by the islanders Sauin, was formerly observed in the Isle of Man by kindling of fires with all the^
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