British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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408                                all saints' DAY.                       [Nov. I.
puling) for soul-cakes, or any good thing to make them merry." Brand, Pop. Antiq. (1849, vol. i. p. 393), gives the following lines as sung on the occasion:
" Soul, soul, for a soul-cake, Pray you, good mistress, a soul-cake."
Western Isles of Scotland.
In St. Kilda, the inhabitants used to make a large cake in the form of a triangle furrowed round, all of which was eaten the same night.—Martin's Western Isles of Scotland, 1716, p. 287.
From the same authority we learn that the inhabitants of Lewis had an ancient custom of sacrificing to the sea-god called Shony. The inhabitants round the island came to the church of St. Mulvay, each man having his provisions with him. Every family furnished a peck of malt, which was brewed into ale. One of their number was picked out to wade into the sea up to the middle, and carrying a cup of ale in his hand, he cried out with a loud voice, saying, " Shony, I give you this cup of ale, hoping that you'll be so kind as to send us plenty of sea-ware, for enriching our ground the ensuing year ;" and so threw the cup of ale into the sea— this was performed in the night time. At his return to land, they all went to church, where there was a candle burning upon the altar; and then standing silent for a little time one of them gave a signal, at which the candle was put out, and immediately all of them went to the fields, where the rest of the night was spent in merriment.
A correspondent of N. & Q. (3rd S. vol. i. p. 446) men­tions a custom at Wexford,* of lighting candles (more or less) in every window in the house, on the night of the vigil of All Souls, and when travelling along a country road where farmhouses and cottages are numerous, the effect is quite picturesque on a dark November eve.
* This custom extends over the whole of Ireland, and is common in some parts of the Continent.
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