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St. Simon and St. Jude's Day was marked by a ship, on account of their having been fishermen,* though even this emblem may perhaps be connected with their pluvial propensities, of which we find so many scattered indications in our old writers. Thus, in Middleton and Dekkar's Roaring Girl,
“Dost thou know her then ?
As well as I know 'twill rain upon
Simon and Jude's day next.”+
Beat all your feathers as flat down as pancakes." I ALLHALLOW's Eve; HALLOW EVEN; HALLOWEEN ; Holy-Eve; NUTCRACK Nigar. — October 31st. This Eve is so called from being the vigil of All Saint's Day, and is the season for a variety of superstitions and other customs. In the north of England many of these are still found to linger. One of the most common is that of diving for apples; or of catching at them with the mouth only, the hands being tied behind, and the apples suspended on one end of a long transverse beamn, at the other extremity of which is fixed a lighted candle. The fruit and nuts form the most prominent parts of the evening feast, and from this circumstance the night has obtained one of its names, namely Nutcrack Night. Nuts also were employed as one, and perhaps the oldest of the many modes of divination practised at this season, for Hutchinson is quite correct when he says of this eve, that “it seems to retain the celebration of a festival to Pomona, when it is supposed the summer stores are opened on the approach of winter. Divinations and consulting of omens attended all these ceremonies in the practice of the heathen. Hence in the rural sacrifice of nuts
Popular Antiquities, vol. i. p. 209. + Act. I. Scene I., p. 19, edit. 1825, 8vo. London, # Id. p. 25.
propitious omens are sought touching matrimony; if the nuts lie still and burn together, it prognosticates a happy marriage or a hopeful love; if on the contrary they bounce and fly asunder, the sign is unpropitious."* Here again, as in so many instances, the custom may be traced back from an unmeaning frolic to a popish superstition, and from that to a classic rite. Nuts have a religious import," says the Romish calendar ;t and going yet farther back, we find that this is but an echo from the times of paganism. Amongst the Romans it was a custom for the bridegroom to throw nuts about the room that the boys might scramble for them, thereby as some will have it, intimating that the new husband meant henceforth to lay aside the sports of boyhood. I That the phrase in time came to signify the assumption of manhood I can easily believe ; but the explanation of Pliny,ộ though doubtful in itself, seems to point to a
* HUTCHINSON'S NORTHUMBERLAND, vol. ii.-Ancient Customs, P. 18.-An appendix to the volume.
+ “Nuces in pretio et religiosæ”- '--as quoted in Brand's Pop. Antiquities, vol. i. p. 212.
Erasmus, when speaking of the phrase nuces relinquere, says " translata metaphora, vel a venusta nuptiarum ceremonia in quibus sponsus uxorem ducens nuces spargebat utpote jam pueritiæ renuncians. Ita Catullus in carmine nuptiali :
• Da, puer, propere nuces,
Concubine, nuces da.
Sparge, marite nuces."
Adagia, Erasmi et Aliorum, p. 528, folio. 1643, § "The next place to these for bignes the walnuts doe challenge. which they can not claime for their credit and authoritie: and yet they are in some request among other licentious and wanton Fescennine ceremonies at weddings; for lesse they be than pine nuts, if a man consider the grossnesse of the body outwardly ; but in proportion thereto they have a much bigger kernel within. Moreover nature bath much graced and honoured these nuts with a peculiar gift she
deeper religious meaning, which even in his day had ceased to be rightly understood. Be this as it may, it is certain that it had a religious import of some kind ; and it is no less plain that the Roman Catholics had a similar idea of the nut; hence, as popery faded from the land, the custom which could not be wholly rooted out, changed in part its character and became a mere rustic superstition.
In some instances we find observances peculiar to certain districts, or even limited to a particular county. Thus at Rippon in Yorkshire, the good women make a cake for every one in the family, whence this eve is by them often called Cake-Night ;* and a similar custom prevails in Warwickshire; t but it does not seem to have existed in many parts of England, though we find it in St. Kilda, where the inhabitants used to inake“ a large cake in form of a triangle furrowed round, and it must be all eaten that night.": From the same authority we learn that the inhabitants of Lewis, one of the western islands of Scotland, “ had an antient custom to sacrifice to a sea-god, called Shony, at Hallow-tide, in the manner following: the inhabitants round the island came to the church of St. Mulvay, having each man his provision along with him ; every family furnished a peck of malt, and this was brewed into ale; one of their number was
hath endued them with, namely a double robe wherewith they are clad; the first is a tender and soft husk; the next, a hard and wooddy shell, which is the cause that at mariages they serve for religious ceremonies, resembling the manifold tunicles and membranes wherein the infant is lapped and enfolded within the womb." Plinie's Natural History, by Philemon Holland, vol. i. chap. 22, p. 415.
* See Gentleman's Magazine for August 1790, vol. Ix. p. 719. † BRAND, vol i. p. 217.
# Martin's Western ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND, p. 287, 8vo. London,
picked out to wade into the sea up to the middle, and carrying a cup of ale in his hand, standing still in that posture, cried out with a loud voice, saying, Shony, I give you this
сир of ale, hoping that you'll be so kind as to send us plenty of sea-ware, for inriching 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 they fell a drinking their ale, and spent the remainder of the night in dancing and singing."*
In olden times, however, seed-cakes were in general use, but with a different object, the purpose seeming to be a sacrifice to the rural deities. Thus Tusser says,
“Wife, sometime this weeke, if the wether hold cleere,
An end of wheat-sowing we make for this yeare ;
The Seed-Cake, the pasties, and furmetie-pot.”+ And again Bishop Kennet tells us, " it was an old English custom to provide seed-cakes to entertain the ploughmen after the season of sowing wheat, which was commonly on All Saints' Night,"I-a curious passage as showing that the wheat at one time was sown at a much earlier part of the year than it is now a-days.
In Ireland the Druids, who held this season as one of their great festivals, used to light up sacrificial fires, though in more modern times the Irish have dropt the fires and substituted candles. Upon the subject of this eve Vallancy has given us much curious information.
Martin's Western Islands, p. 28. + Five Hurdred Points of Good Husbandrie, fol. 75, b. quarto, London, 1580.
MS.-Lansdowne Cat., Brit. Mus., p. 12, 1039. Plut. 79, f.
Amongst other things, he says, “On the Oidhche Shamhna" (by the aspiration of the consonants pronounced Ee Owna) " or Vigil of Saman, the peasants in Ireland assemble with sticks and clubs (the emblems of laceration) going from house to house, collecting money, bread-cake, butter, cheese, eggs, &c. for the feast, repeating verses in honour of the sole nuity, demanding preparations for the festival in the name of St. Colomb Kill, desiring them to lay aside the fatted calf and to bring forth the black sheep.* The good women are employed in making the griddle-caket and candles; these last are sent from house to house in the vicinity, and are lighted up on the(Saman)
This was preparatory to the sacrifice of the black-sheep on the day following to Saman, Samhan, or Baal-Samhan, who was now supposed to call the souls to judgment; and, according to their previous conduct while connected with the body, assigned to them a future life either in the brute or human species. Hence he was also called Bal. SAB, bal signifying “ lord,” and sab “ death.” In all this we have another striking proof of the eastern origin of druidism, for both the Druids and Pythagoras, strictly agreeing in this article of faith, they were much more likely to have borrowed from one common source in the east than from each other. As to the sacrifice of black sheep, that ceremony is also mentioned by Virgil :
“ Post ubi nona suos Aurora induxerat ortus
Georg. L. iv. 546. It is hardly necessary to add that if due presents were made to the priest of Balsab he allowed himself to be propitiated, and forgave the soul its sins in consideration of the bounty shown towards his servants. Most assuredly there is nothing new under the sun.
+ Griddle is a provincial word, particularly used in Devonshire, signifying, a gridiron. A griddle.cake is a cake baked, or perhaps we should rather say, toasted, on irons over the fire. It is still to be seen in the cottages of the peasants in the Western parts of England, while in Surrey it is superseded by the pot-cake, that is to say, a cake baked in a large iron sauce-pan.