Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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HALLOWE'EN
Hallowe'en is indeed in the British Isles the favourite time for forecasting the future, and various methods are employed for this purpose.
A girl may cross her shoes upon her bedroom floor in the shape of a T and say these lines :
" 1 cross my shoes in the shape of a T, Hoping this night my true love to see, Not in his best or worst array, But in the clothes of every day."
Then let her get into bed backwards without speaking any more that night, and she will see her future husband in her dreams.34
"On All Hallowe'en or New Year's Eve," says Mr. W. Henderson, "a Border maiden may wash her sark, and hang it over a chair to dry, taking care to tell no one what she is about. If she lie awake long enough, she will see the form of her future spouse enter the room and turn the sark. We are told of one young girl who, after fulfilling this rite, looked out of bed and saw a coffin behind the sark ; it remained visible for some time and then disappeared. The girl rose up in agony and told her family what had occurred, and the next morning she heard of her lover's death." 35
In Scotland 36 and Ireland 37 other methods of foreseeing the future are practised on Hallowe'en ; we need not consider them here, for we shall have quite enough of such auguries later on. (Some Scottish customs are introduced by Burns into his poem " Hallowe'en.") I may, however, allude to the custom formerly prevalent in Wales for women to congregate in the church on this " Night of the Winter Kalends," in order to discover who of the parishioners would die during the year.38 ast of the Welsh border, at Dorstone in Herefordshire, there was a belief that on All Hallows' Eve at midnight those who were bold enough to look through the windows would see the church lighted with an unearthly glow, and Satan in monk's habit fulminating anathemas from the pulpit and calling out the names of those who were to render up their souls.39
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