Sunday 30 October 2022

Soul Cakes, Halloween Began in Britain??

Well, you get old and eventually you learn stuff. I got a note from Charles Wells who said, " The *name* Halloween came from the British. It is the eve of All Saints Day (Hallowmas, November 1) which is celebrated all over Catholic Europe, not just in Britain. November 2 is All Souls Day, meaning the day for sinners as well as saints. That is the Day of the Dead in Mexico."
Later I added, "Thanks, Charles,but given that the Scottish, the English, the Welsh, and the Irish ALL seem to object to being included as "British", I will simply confirm what you have said with a quote from the Online Etymology Dictionary, "c.1745, Scottish shortening of Allhallow-even "Eve of All Saints, last night of October" (1556), the last night of the year in the old Celtic calendar, where it was Old Year's Night, a night for witches. Another pagan holiday given a cursory baptism and sent on its way. Hallowmas "All-saints" is first attested 1389."
I had just seen a BBC show that morning in 2009 and Sting had just released the Soul Cakes song, don't ask why, some things must be left unexplained.

 Here is the story of soul cakes and halloween as told by Wikipedia: "A Soul cake is a small round cake which is traditionally made for All Souls' Day to celebrate the dead. The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, were given out to soulers (mainly consisting of children and the poor) who would go from door to door on Hallowmas (new word to me, obviously the eve of All Souls Day) singing and saying prayers for the dead. Each cake eaten would represent a soul being freed from Purgatory. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes is often seen as the origin of modern Trick or Treating." "The tradition of giving Soul Cakes originated in Britain during the Middle Ages, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy." "The cakes were usually filled with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, or other sweet spices, raisins or currants, and later were topped with the mark of a cross. They were traditionally set out with glasses of wine on All Hallows Eve, and on All Saints Day children would go "souling" by calling out: Soul, Soul, a soul cake! 
 I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake! 
 One for Peter, two for Paul, 
 three for Him what made us all! 
 Soul Cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
 An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
 anything good thing to make us all merry. 
 One for Peter, one for Paul, 
& three for Him who made us all. ...

lyrics from A Soalin', a holiday song written and performed by Peter, Paul and Mary (1963)."

See, nothing scary here. Have a Happy Halloween.

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