[Christine O’Keeffe’s Halloween Customs]
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British & Irish Halloween Customs
Down the centuries from the Druid tree-worship comes the spell of the walnut-tree. It is circled thrice, with the invocation:

Let her that is to be my true-love bring me some walnuts; and directly a spirit will be seen in the tree gathering nuts.

Steal out unobserved at midnight; plucking a small lock of hair from your head, cast it into the breeze. Whatever direction it is blown is believed to be the location of future matrimonial partner.

I pluck this lock of hair off my head
To tell whence comes the one I shall wed.
Fly, silken hair, fly all the world around
Until you reach the spot where my true love is found.

Nutcrack Night: On Halloween a lighted match is dropped between two hazelnuts on a grate. If the hazlenut moves away from the flame, the person will be matched. If it cracks or pops the couple’s future is poor. The loyal burns to ashes. Ashes are raked smooth on the hearth at bedtime and examined for footprints the next day. A blue candle flame means spirits are nearby. (22)

Spirit Talking: A person born on Halloween is said to be able to see and talk to spirits. Ringing bells or knocking on wood keeps evil spirits away. Before sunset on Halloween walk backward counterclockwise around your home three times to keep spirits away. (3, 4, 5)

Allantide: Allan Day: Saint Allan, Nos Calan Gwaf: Winter Night Halloween in Cornwall. Shops in Penzance and St. Ives display Allan apples, highly polished large red apples given as gifts to each member of the family as a token of good luck. Game recorded where 2 pieces of wood nailed together in the shape of a cross; then suspended with 4 candles on each outcrop of the cross shape. Allan apples suspended under the cross. The goal of the game to catch the apples in your mouth, with hot wax being the penalty. Children sleep with the Allan apple hidden under their pillows. Allan Markets are where large quantities of apples are sold. (44)

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© 1999. Christine O’Keeffe, Ver. 3.0 Saturday, October 9, 1999