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.                                  403
pole and kindled in the same manner as before. Numbers of these blazing faggots are often carried about together, and when the night happens to be dark they form a splendid illumination.—Sinclair, Stat. Ace. of Scotland, 1793, vol. v. p. 84.
At this season the peasants assemble with sticks and clubs, and go from house to house collecting money, bread-cake, butter, &c, for the feast, repeating verses in honour of the solemnity, and demanding the inhabitants to lay aside the fatted calf and to bring forth the black sheep.* The women are employed in making the griddle cake and candles; these last are sent from house to house in the vicinity, and are lighted up on the next day before which they pray, or are supposed to pray, for the departed soul of the donor. Hemp-seed is sown by the maidens, and they believe that, if they look back, they will see the apparition of the man intended for their future husbands; they hang a smock before the fire on the close of the feast, and sit up all night concealed in a corner of the room, convinced that his apparition will come down the chimney and turn the smock. They also throw a ball of yarn out of the window, and wind it up on a reel within, thinking that, if they repeat the Paternoster backwards and look at the ball of yarn without, they will gee his apparition. They, moreover, dip for apples in a tub of water, and endeavour to bring one up in the mouth; they suspend a cord with a cross stick, with apples at one point and candles lighted at the other, and endeavour to catch the apple, while it is in circular motion, in the mouth. These and many other superstitious customs are observed.—Val­iancy, Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, 1786, vol. iii. p. 459.
On Halloween, women take the yolk from eggs boiled hard, fill the eggs with salt, and eat egg, shell and salt. They are careful not to quench their thirst till morning.—JV. & Q. 4:th. S. vol. iv. p. 505.
* This was preparatory to the sacrifice of the black sheep on the following day to Saman—See Soane's New Curiosities of Literature, 1847, p. 219.
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