[From Manx Soc vol 16, 1869]


Hallow Even is the vigil of All Saints' Day, which is on the lst November. This night, of all others, it is customary for young people to pry into futurity, a passion inherent in the breast of human nature in all ages and nations, and innumerable are the means resorted to in order to accomplish the object. In " Love Divinations " the dumb-cake is made in the Isle of Man, and is thus alluded to by Dr. Kelly in his Manx -Dictionary (Manx Society, vol. xiii. 1866). " On this night, in the words of Jeremiah, 'The women knead their dough to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven,' which is the moon, called in Scripture, Ashtaroth. 'They served Baalini and Ashtaroth.' Much ceremony is observed in making this cake, which is sacred to love (for the Syrian Astarte is supposed to be the Greek Venus), and is called the 'Soddag valloo' or dumb-cake. Every woman is obliged to assist in mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, and baking the cake on glowing embers, and when sufficiently baked, they divide it, cat it up, and retire to their beds backwards without speaking a word, from which silence the cake derives its name ' and in the course of the night expect to see the images of the men who are destined to be their husbands. This eve is called 'Oie houiney."'

Besides the " Hop-tu-naa " boys hereafter mentioned, various fortunes are tried by the young of both sexes, according to their dilferent faith in the formula resorted to, and many a hearty laugh is the result. Most of these customs are similar to what have been often described as practised in the North of England and Scotland, and Burns in his " Halloween " has immortalised them. The Manx benaaishnee, or female fortune-teller, found ample occupation on this eventful eve.


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001