British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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NOV. I.]                            ALL SAINTS' DAY.                                     405
the custom prevailing among the Roman Catholics of lighting fires upon the hills on All Saints'night, the Eve of All Souls, scarcely needs explaining, fire being, even among the Pagans, an emblem of immortality, and well calculated to typify the ascent of the soul to heaven.
A correspondent of the same periodical (1788, vol. lviii. p. 602) alludes to a custom observed in some parts of the kingdom among the Papists, of illuminating some of their grounds upon the eve of All Souls, by bearing round them straw, or other fit materials, kindled into a blaze. This ceremony is called a Tinley, said to represent an emblematical lighting of souls out of purgatory.
Cheshire.
On All Souls' Eve, both children and grown-up people go from door to door, a-souling, i.e., begging for soul cakes, or anything else they can get. In some districts they perform a kind of play as well, but in all instances the following, or a similar song, is sung :
" You gentlemen of England, pray you now draw near To these few lines, and you soon shall hear Sweet melody of music all on this evening clear, For we are come a-souling for apples and strong beer.
Step down into your cellar, and see what you can find, If your barrels are not empty, we hope you will prove kind ; We hope you will prove kind with your apples and strong beer, We'll come no more a-souling until another year.
Cold winter it is coming on, dark, dirty, wet and cold, To try your good nature, this night we do make bold; This night we do make bold with your apples and strong beer, And we'll come no more a-souling until another year.
All the houses that we've been at, we've had both meat and drink, So now we're dry with travelling, we hope you'll on us think; We hope you'll on us think with your apples and strong beer, For we'll come no more a-souling until another year.
God bless the master of this house, and the mistress also, And all the little children that round the table go; Likewise your men and maidens, your cattle and your store, And all that lies within your gates we wish you ten times more; We wish you ten times more with your apples and strong beer, And we'll come no more a-souling until another year."
Jour, of the Arch. Assoc. 1850, vol. v. p. 252.
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