Soul Cakes anyone?
Don’t these look good? Soul cakes were given to children who went souling on All Hallow’s Eve. They were given in exchange for the promise of prayers for the deceased. It was believed that souls went to purgatory when a person died and prayers were needed to get them out. The Soulers carried hallowed out turnips with candles in them that supposedly represented a soul trapped in purgatory. It was also a good lantern!
The Irish immigrants brought this custom with them when they came to America in the mid 1800’s due to the potato famine. Like many customs, it changed to a night of song and treats. It took awhile for Americans to adopt the idea but they did. Trick or treating became popular throughout America in the 1950’s. Since costumes had been worn by the early Soulers to ward off spirits, that custom was borrowed too. Of course it was Americanized!
I don’t know why the veil between heaven and earth is thought to be thin during this time of year, but if you believe this, then it’s a good time for fortune telling. The early settlers celebrated the harvest with hard cider and fortune telling. My uncles told me stories of upsetting outhouses and buggies on Halloween. For these farm boys, it was a night of mischief which drove my grandmother crazy! I think they were letting off steam after working so hard to get the crops in.
I wish you all a Happy Halloween! Lots of candy will be given to children in costumes, but there will be no Soulers. There are recipes online for soul cakes for you bakers! But I’m sticking to raisin oatmeal.