British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

Oct, 3i.]                         hallow eve.                                   399
the same by an apple in a tub of water; each throwing a nut into the fire, and those that burn bright betoken pros­perity to the owners through the following year, but those that burn black and crackle, denote misfortune. On the following morning the stones are searched for in the fire, and if any be missing, they betide ill to those who threw them in.
Burns, in his notes upon Halloween, gives the following interesting account of the superstitious customs practised by the Scottish peasantry:
1.  The first ceremony of Halloween is pulling each a stock or plant of kail. They must go out hand in hand, with eyes shut, and pull the first they meet with; its being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size and shape of the grand object of all their spells—the husband or wife. If any yird, or earth stick to the root, that is tocher or fortune; and the taste of the custoc, that is the heart of the stem, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or—to give them their ordinary appella­tion—the runts, are placed somewhere above the head of the door; and the Christian names of the people, whom chance brings into the house are, according to the priority of place-ing the runts, the names in question.
2.  They go to the barn-yard, and pull each, at three several times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk wants the top-pickle, the party in question will come to the marriage-bed anything but a maid.
3.  Burning the nuts is a famous charm, they name the lad and lass to each particular nut as they lay them in the fire. Accordingly, as they burn quietly together or start from beside one another, the course and issue of the courtship will be.
4.  Steal out all alone to the kiln, and darkling throw into the pot a clue of blue yarn, wind it in a new clue ofi the old one ; and towards the latter end, something will hold the thread ; demand, " Who hauds ?" i.e., who holds. An answer will be returned from the kiln-pot, by naming the Christian and surname of your future spouse.
Previous Contents Next