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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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The Modern Hallowe'en

The Modern Hallowe'en

(p.379) 37 The Modern Hallowe'en
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the joint legacy of a shadowy pagan festival and a feast in Christianity of the dead in the various communities of the British Isles, as manifested in the past couple of hundred years. The first and most obvious aspect of it is the keeping of All Hallows' Eve as a feast, or time for socializing. In nineteenth-century Ireland, the two traditions of origin were perfectly fused. Most families prepared an unusually good communal meal for the evening, the poor going about in the day ‘collecting money, bread-cake, butter, cheese, eggs, etc.’. When all was ready, candles would be lit and prayers formally offered for the souls of the dead. In the Highlands of Scotland during the early part of the century, the night was regarded as ‘the most important occasion’ for family celebrations in the year. Household parties were also the rule in the Western and Northern Isles.

Keywords:   festival, feast, Christianity, British Isles, All Hallows' Eve, meal, candles, prayers, souls, Scotland

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