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Demon pigs, apple pits and headless girls – how the outdated Halloween legends of Wales have been forgotten

Demon pigs, apple pits and headless women - how the old Halloween legends of Wales were forgotten

For many of us, Halloween is all about dressing up, treating or treating and watching scary films.

Not less than that is the way it has been seen over time – an Americanized, pop-culture-heavy model of an historical Celtic custom often called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win” and means “finish of summer time”).

To mark the top of the harvest season and the start of winter, Samhain celebrated the second when it was believed that the worlds of the residing and the lifeless briefly overlap.

Learn extra: Right here you could find extra of our historical past tales.

Rooted in rural folklore and superstition, a big a part of it died out with the onset of industrialization within the mid-18th century.

And right here in Wales we had our personal historical and long-forgotten traditions for October thirty first, which was known as Nos Galan Gaeaf – “the night of the day”.


Coelcerth, or “campfire,” was when households constructed a wood pyre and every tossed a stone with their title on it into the new flames.

The following morning they’d all come again to examine the ashes of the hearth, and if a selected individual’s stone was lacking, it was predicted that they’d die earlier than the yr was up.

Hwch Ddu Gwta

This was the title for the demon pig – or “tailless black sow” – that stormed out of the embers of the dying campfire to seek out the final individual to hold round after everybody else went dwelling.

Legend has it that the creature, accompanied by a headless lady in white – Y Ladi Wen – roamed the panorama, each of whom have been in search of souls to devour.

(Though some say she was extra of a protector, guarding cemeteries and keeping off evil spirits).

Nonetheless, there was an outdated Welsh nursery rhyme from the time, which learn: “Adref, adref am y cyntaf, hwch ddu gwta a gipio’r ola”, which meant “Dwelling, dwelling instantly, the tailless black sow ought to catch the final one” one ‘.

Keep away from intersections and cemeteries

To Nos Galan Gaeaf. cemeteries have been greatest averted

Individuals went out of their solution to keep away from the intersection of streets and paths – together with cemeteries – because it was thought that these locations have been the place ghosts and witches gathered to lie in wait.

Y Stwmp Naw Rhyw

Admittedly much less interesting than a Trick or Handled sweet bar, Y Stwmp Naw Rhyw (or The Mash of 9 Kinds) was a stew constituted of potatoes, carrots, peas, parsnips, leeks, pepper, salt, and milk with a marriage ring hidden in it.

Younger villagers in love have been then inspired to eat a bowl full at a time, and whoever discovered the ring was the primary to marry.

Love spell

Nos Galan Gaeaf was thought of a really highly effective night time to make use of magic to foretell who you’d find yourself with.

Younger girls took a core from an apple core and pressed it between thumb and forefinger. It might blow up and, upon touchdown, the pointed finish would level in the direction of the house of her supposed lover.

An individual would additionally glue a collection of pips to their brow, giving every one the title of a possible mate.

The final core to fall off could be the one bearing the title of her future partner.

It was additionally believed that an apple peel thrown over somebody’s shoulder become the silhouette of the individual they’d finally marry.

Do not contact the ivy

There have been pressing warnings to not contact or odor ivy on Nos Galan Gaeaf because it was believed that doing so would trigger witches or witches – “gwrachod” – to seem in your desires.

Nonetheless, if boys wished to see into the longer term, they need to reduce 10 ivy leaves, then discard one, and place the remaining 9 underneath their pillow.

Women who wished to do the identical needed to take some wild roses – which had grown right into a hoop large enough to undergo thrice – earlier than silently chopping them up and putting the items underneath their heads earlier than going to sleep.

mirror Mirror

An single lady was advised to have a look at her reflection in a darkened room that night time and the face of her future bridegroom would seem.

However ought to a cranium materialize as an alternative, the lady would solely have months to reside.

By means of the keyhole

One other solution to predict who would die amongst family and friends could be to stroll round a church thrice and stare by means of its keyhole on the stroke of midnight.

The face of the doomed get together would then supposedly take form.

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