Post 1626. Sunday October 29
On seeing J Hardy Carroll’s photo, my thoughts immediately turned toward Halloween. My tale takes us back to the early days of this ancient festival.
It was late October in the year of our Lord 1789. In the waning hours of Hallowmass Eve, urchins in rags, and sufferers from calamity marched through the cobbled streets of Bartonwick. Smoke curled skyward from the crooked chimneys of the thatched stone cottages. Banging on doors, the Soulers begged for food and money, offering songs and prayers in payment.
A soul cake, a soul cake,
Please good missus, a soul cake,
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, one for Paul,
And three for him that made us all
As old Harriet Wicklesmith opened her creaking oak door, a smile spread across her wrinkled face. All day she had mixed, stirred and baked her Soul Cakes. She proffered a glass bowl, filled with steaming cross-topped sweetmeats. One by one, the Soulers helped themselves.
‘May your souls be freed from Purgatory when these cakes are eaten’ she muttered.
'We shall eat the fruit of your labour. Blessings and prosperity will be yours’ they replied.
Photo: J Hardy Carroll