[Christine O’Keeffe’s Halloween Customs]
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Maidhdeanbuain: Harvest Festivals: Outdoors, farms, churches. Apples, potatoes, nuts, and corn: grain are available for purchase. During 19th century harvest festivals, the last sheaf of harvest corn was braided and set up as decoration in the home. It is called a husking bee: snigging the Cailleach. The cailleach is a hag of the seasons and she marries on Halloween. In her goddess aspect she is called Corn Mother, Harvest Queen, or Grandmother Corn. Cornhusk dolls, cornmaidens: maidhdeanbuain, are kept until the spring, dowsed with water as a rain charm or burned as a symbol of the death of the grain spirit. Ruth Edna Kelly chronicles girls pulling straws out of a thatch with an old seeress breaking the straw to find hair the color of the lover’s-to-be; plucking heads of oats and counting the number of grains to find out how many children they would have. (3, 26)

Kale-pulling: Single people go hand in hand blindfolded to a cabbage-garden to pull the first stalk they come upon. The size and shape of the stalk indicates the appearance of the future husband or wife. Earth at the root: money. White head: old, an open green head: young. Disposition: like the taste of the stem. If the cabbage is stolen from the garden of an unmarried person it has special virtue. Children believe if they pile cabbage-stalks round the doors and windows of the house, the fairies will bring them a new brother or sister. Cabbage-stalk piths are pushed out, the hole filled with tow, set onfire and blown through keyholes on Halloween.

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© 1998. Christine O’Keeffe, Ver. 3.0. Sunday, January 28, 2001