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Cranmer" against superstitious practices," wherein "the vigil and ringing of bells all the night long upon Allhallowday at night," are directed to be abolished; and the said vigil to have no watching or ringing. So likewise a subsequent injunction, early in the reign of queen Elizabeth, orders" that the superfluous ringing of bels, and the superstitious ringing of bells at Alhallowntide, and at Al Soul's day, with the two nights next before and after, be prohibited."
General Vallancey says, concerning this night, "On the Oidhche Shamhna, (Ee Owna,) or vigil of Samam, 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. &c. for the feast, repeating verses in honour of the solemnity, demanding preparations for the festival in the name of St. Columb 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 cake and candles; these last are sent from house to house in the vicinity, and are lighted up on the (Saman) next day, before which they pray, or are supposed to pray, for the departed soul of the donor. Every house abounds in the best viands they can afford. Apples and nuts are devoured in abundance; the nut-shells are burnt, and from the ashes many strange things are foretold. Cabbages are torn up by the root. Hempseed is sown by the maidens, and they believe that if they look back, they will see the apparition of the man intended for their future spouse. They hang a shift before the fire, on the close of the feast, and sit up all night, concealed in a corner of the room, convinced that his apparition will come down the chimney and turn the shift. They throw a ball of yarn out of the window, and wind it on the reel within, convinced that if they repeat the paternoster backwards, and look at the ball of yarn without, they will then also see his sith, or apparition. They dip for apples in a tub of water,
and endeavour to bring one up in the mouth. They suspend a cord with a cross stick, with apples at one point, and candles lighted at the other; and endeavour to catch the apple, while it is in a circular motion, in the mouth. These, and many other superstitious ceremonies, the remains of Druidism, are observed on this holiday, which will never be eradi cated while the name of Saman is permitted to remain."
It is mentioned by a writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine," that lamb's-wool is a constant ingredient at a merrymaking on Holy Eve, or on the evening before All Saints-day in Ireland. It is made there, he says, by bruising roasted apples, and mixing them with ale, or sometimes with milk. "Formerly, when the superior ranks were not too refined for these periodical meetings of jollity, white wine was frequently substituted for ale. To lamb's-wool, apples and nuts are added as a necessary part of the entertainment; and the young folks amuse themselves with burning nuts in pairs on the bar of the grate, or among the warm embers, to which they give their name and that of their lovers, or those of their friends who are supposed to have such attachments; and from the manner of their burning and duration of the flame, &c. draw such inferences respecting the constancy or strength of their passions, as usually promote mirth and good humour." Lamb's-wool is thus etymologized by Vallancey:-" The first day of November was dedicated to the angel presiding over fruits, seeds, &c. and was therefore named La Mas Ubhal, that is, the day of the apple fruit, and being pronounced lamasool, the English have corrupted the name to lamb's-wool."
So much is said, and perhaps enough for the present, concerning the celebration of this ancient and popular vigil.
Fennel-leaved. Tickseed Corcopsis ferulefolia. Dedicated to St. Quiniin.
Now comes the season when the humble want,
"There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth :
This is the eleventh month of the year. The anglo-saxons gave names in their own tongue to each month, and "November they termed wint-monat, to wit, wind-moneth, whereby wee may see that our ancestors were in this season of the yeare made acquainted with blustring Boreas; and it was the antient custome for shipmen then to shrowd themselves at home, and to give over sea-faring (not withstanding the littlenesse of their then used voyages) untill blustring March had bidden them well to fare."* They like wise called it blot-monath. In the saxon, "blot" means blood; and in this month they killed great abundance of cattle for winter-store, or, according to some, for purposes of sacrifice to their deities.+
Bishop Warburton commences a letter to his friend Hurd, with an allusion to the evil influence which the gloominess of this month is proverbially supposed to have on the mind. He dates from Bedford-row, October 28th, 1749:—“ I am now got hither," he says, "to spend the month of November: the dreadful month of November! when the little wretches hang and drown themselves, and the great ones sell themselves to the court and the devil."
"This is the month," says Mr. Leigh Hunt," in which we are said by the Frenchman to hang and drown ourselves. We also agree with him to call it the gloomy month of November;' and, above all, with our in-door, money-getting, and unimaginative habits, all the rest of the year, we contrive to make it so. Not all of us, however and fewer and fewer, we trust, every day. It is a fact well known to the medical philosopher, that, in proportion as people do not like air and exercise, their blood becomes darker and darker now what corrupts and thickens the circulation, and keeps the humours within the pores, darkens and clogs the mind; and we are then in a state to receive pleasure but indifferently or confusedly, and pain with tenfold painfulness. If we add to this a quantity of unnecessary cares and sordid mistakes, it is so much the worse. A love of nature is the refuge. He who grapples with March, and has the smiling eyes upon him of June and August, need have no fear of November.-And as the Italian proverb says, every medal has its reverse. November, with its loss of verdure, its frequent rains, the fall of the leaf, and
the visible approach of winter, is undoubtedly a gloomy month to the gloomy; but to others, it brings but pensiveness, a feeling very far from destitute of pleasure; and if the healthiest and most imaginative of us may feel their spirits pulled down by reflections connected with earth, its mortalities, and its mistakes, we should but strengthen ourselves the more to make strong and sweet music with the changeful but harmonious movements of nature." This pleasant observer of the months further remarks, that, "There are many pleasures in November if we will lift up our matter-of-fact eyes, and find that there are matters-of-fact we seldom dream of. It is a pleasant thing to meet the gentle fine days, that come to contradict our sayings for us; it is a pleasant thing to see the primrose come back again in woods and meadows; it is a pleasant thing to catch the whistle of the green plover, and to see the greenfinches congregate; it is a pleasant thing to listen to the deep amorous note of the woodpigeons, who now come back again; and it is a pleasant thing to hear the deeper voice of the stags, making their triumphant love amidst the falling leaves.
"Besides a quantity of fruit, our gardens retain a number of the flowers of last month, with the stripped hly in leaf; and, in addition to several of the flowering trees and shrubs, we have the fertile and glowing china-roses in flower: and in fruit the pyracantha, with its lustrous red-berries, that cluster so beautifully on the walls of cottages. This is the time also for domestic cultivators of flowers to be very busy in preparing for those spring and winter ornaments, which used to be thought the work of magic. They may plant hyacinths, dwarf tulips, polyanthus-narcissus, or any other moderately-growing bulbous roots, either in water-glasses, or in pots of light dry earth, to flower early in their apartments. If in glasses, the bulb should be a little in the water; if in pots, a little in the earth, or but just covered. They should be kept in a warm light room.
"The trees generally lose their leaves in the following succession:- walnut, mulberry, horse-chesnut, sycamore, line, ash, then, after an interval, elm, then beech and oak, then apple and peachtrees, sometimes not till the end of November; and lastly, pollard oaks and young beeches, which retain their withered leaves till pushed off by their new ones in spring. Oaks that happen to be
stripped of their leaves by chaffers, will often surprise the haunter of nature by being clothed again soon after midsummer with a beautiful vivid foliage.
"The farmer endeavours to finish his ploughing this month, and then lays up his instruments for the spring. Cattle are kept in the yard or stable, sheep turned into the turnip-field, or in bad weather fed with hay; bees moved under shelter, and pigeons fed in the dove
"Among our autumnal pleasures, we ought not to have omitted the very falling of the leaves :
To view the leaves, thin dancers upon air,
O Spring! of hope, and love, and youth, and gladness,
All Saints. St. Cæsarius, A. D. 300. St. Mary. M. St. Marcellus, Bp. of Paris, 5th Cent. St. Benignus, Apostle of Burgundy, A. D. 272. St. Austremonius, 3d Cent. St. Harold VI., King of Denmark, A. D. 980.
This festival in the almanacs and the church of England calendar is from the church of Rome, which celebrates it in commemoration of those of its saints, to whom, on account of their number, particular days could not be allotted in their individual honour.
On this day, in many parts of England, apples are bobbed for, and nuts cracked, as upon its vigil, yesterday; and we still retain traces of other customs that we had in common with Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, in days of old.
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
Should the following excerpt relative to the first of November be of use to you, it is at your service, extracted from a scarce and valuable work by Dr. W. Owen Pughe, entitled "Translations of the Heroic Elegies of Llywarch Hen, London, 1792."
On All Saints day hard is the grain,
The leaves are dropping, the puddle is full,
Woe to him that will trust a stranger.
"The first day of November was considered (among the ancient Welsh) as the conclusion of summer, and was celebrated with bonfires, accompanied with ceremonies suitable to the event, and some parts of Wales still retain these customs. Ireland retains similar ones, and the fire that is made at these seasons, is called Beal teinidh, in the Irish language, and some antiquaries of that country, in establishing the eras of the different colonies planted in the island, have been happy enough to adduce as an argument for their Phoenician origin this term of Beal teinidh.
"The meaning of tàn, (in Welsh), like the Irish teinidh, is fire, and Bal is simply a projecting springing out or expanding, and when applied to vegetation, it means a budding or shooting out of leaves and blossoms, the same as balant, of which it is the root, and it is also the root of bala and of blwydd, blwyddyn and blynedd, a year, or circle of vegetation. So the signification of bál dán, or tán bál, would be the rejoicing fire for the vegetation, or for the crop of the year."
The following seven triplets by Llywarch Hen, who lived to the surprising age of one hundred and forty years, and wrote in the sixth century, also relate to the subject. The translations, which are strictly literal, are also from the pen of Dr. Pughe. Tribanau.
Calangauaf caled grawn
Dail ar gychwyn, Uynwyn Uawn:-
Gwae a ymddiried i estrawn
All Saints day, a time of pleasant gossiping,
On All Saints day the stags are lean,
Calangauaf cain gyfrin,
Cyfred awel a drychin: Gwaith celwydd yw celu rhin. 3.
Calangauaf cul hyddod
Yellow are the tops of birch; deserted is the Melyn blaen bedw, gweddw hafod:
Woe to him who for a trifle deserves a curse.
On All Saints day the tops of the branches are bent;
In the mouth of the mischievous, disturbance is congenial:
Where there is no natural gift there will be no learning.
On All Saints day blustering is the weather, Very unlike the beginning of the past fair
Besides God there is none who knows the future.
On All Saints day 'tis hard and dry, Doubly black is the crow, quick is the arrow from the bow,
For the stumbling of the old, the looks of the young wear a smile.
On All Saints day bare is the place where the heath is burnt,
The plough is in the furrow, the ox at work: Amongst a hundred 'tis a chance to find a friend.
It will be perceived that each triplet, as was customary with the ancient Britons is accompanied by a moral maxim, without relation to the subject of the song. GWILYM SAIS.
Laurastinus. Laurastinus sempervirens.
All Souls; or the Commemoration of the Faithful departed. St. Victorinus Bp. A. D. 304. St. Marcian, A. D. 387. St. Vulgan, 8th Cent.
This day, also a festival in the almanacs, and the church of England calendar, is from the Romish church, which celebrates it with masses and ceremonies devised for the occasion. "Odilon, abbot of Cluny, in the 9th century, first enjoined he ceremony of praying for the dead on
this day in his own monastery; and the like practice was partially adopted by other religious houses until the year 998, when it was established as a general festival throughout the western churches. To mark the pre-eminent importance of this festival, if it happened on a Sunday it was not postponed to the Monday, as was the case with other such solemnities, but kept on the Saturday, in order that the church might the sooner aid the ffering souls and, that the dead might have every benefit from the pious exer tions of the living, the remembrance of this ordinance was kept up, by persons dressed in black, who went round the