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.                                  401
lead him to the hearth where the dishes are ranged; he (or she) dips the left hand; if by chance in the clean water, the future husband or wife will come to the bar of matrimony a maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in the empty dish, it foretells with equal certainty no marriage at all. It is repeated three times, and every time the arrangement of the dishes is altered.
The following extract is taken from the Guardian (Novem­ber 11th, 1874);—Halloween was duly celebrated at Balmoral Castle. Preparations had been made days beforehand, and farmers and others for miles around were present. When darkness set in the celebration began, and her Majesty and the Princess Beatrice, each bearing a large torch, drove out in an open phaeton. A procession formed of the tenants and servants on the estates followed, all carrying huge torches lighted. They walked through the grounds and round the Castle, and the scene as the procession moved onwards was very weird and striking. When it had arrived in front of the Castle an immense bonfire, composed of old boxes, packing-cases, and other materials, stored up during the year for the occasion, was set fire to. When the flames were at their brightest a figure dressed as a hobgoblin appeared on the scene, drawing a car surrounded by a number of fairies carrying long spears, the car containing the effigy of a witch. A circle having been formed by the torch-bearers, the presiding elf tossed the figure of the witch into the fire, where it was speedily consumed. This crema­tion over, reels were begun, and were danced with great vigour to the stirring strains of Willie Boss, her Majesty's piper.
In former times at Halloween, Christmas, and other holidays, the younger part of the community of Cullen resorted to the sands and links of the bay for the purpose of playing foot-ball, running foot-races, &c. They left tho town in procession, preceded by a piper and other music,
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