Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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CHAPTER VII
ALL HALLOW TIDE TO MARTINMAS
All Saints' and All Souls' Days, their Relation to a New Year Festival—All Souls' Eve and Tendance of the Departed—Soul Cakes in England and on the Continent—Pagan Parallels of All Souls'—Hallowe'en Charms and Omens— Hallowe'en Fires—Guy Fawkes Day—" Old Hob," the Schimmelreiter, and other Animal Masks—Martinmas and its Slaughter—Martinmas Drinking—St. Martin's Fires in Germany—Winter Visitors in the Low Countries and Germany—St. Martin as Gift-bringer—St. Martin's Rod.
All Saints' and All Souls' Days.
In the reign of Charles I. the young gentlemen of the Middle Temple were accustomed to reckon All Hallow Tide (November i) the beginning of Christmas.1 We may here do likewise and start our survey of winter festivals with November, in the earlier half of which, apparently, fell the Celtic and Teutonic New Year's Days. It is impossible to fix precise dates, but there is reason for thinking that the Celtic year began about November I,*2 and the Teutonic about November 11.3
On November I falls one of the greater festivals of the western Church, All Saints'—or, to give it its old English name, All Hallows'—and on the morrow is the solemn commemoration of the departed—All Souls'. In these two anniversaries the Church has
* According to Sir John Rhys, in the Isle of Man Hollantide (November i, Old Style, therefore November 12) is still to-day the beginning of a new year. But the ordinary calendar is gaining ground, and some of the associations of the old New Year s Day are being transferred to January 1, the Roman date. " In Wales this must have been decidedly helped by the influence of Roman rule and Roman ideas ; but even there the adjuncts of the Winter Calends have never been wholly transferred to the Calends of January." 4
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