Early divination was often done using only the items at hand — sticks, vegetable peels, cloud formations, etc. Around the end of the harvest season, there wasn’t often much left in the fields.
However, nuts were often plentiful. Pecans, chestnuts, filberts and more would have been gathered up in baskets and stored, which made them the perfect medium for late fall divination. This is a similar celebration to Nutting Day, which falls in mid-September.
Filberts are the European variety of hazelnuts, and in some parts of England, they were used for divination purposes around Samhain night. In fact, for a while the practice was so popular that Halloween was sometimes referred to as Nut Crack Night. Filberts were placed in a pan over a fire and roasted. As they heated up, they would pop open. Young women watched the filberts carefully, because it was believed that if they popped enough to jump out of the pan, romantic success was guaranteed.
In some areas of Europe, the nuts were not roasted, but instead were ground into flour, which was then baked into special cakes and dessert breads.
These were eaten before bed, and were said to give the sleeper some very prophetic dreams. In a few regions, the flour was blended with butter and sugar to create Soul Cakes for All Soul’s Night.
Scottish poet Robert Burns describes a practice in which couples would roast a pair of nuts together, and the behavior of the nuts was indicative of the future of the relationship.
Burns says, “Burning the nuts is a favourite charm. They name the lad and lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in the fire; and accordingly as they burn quietly together, or start from beside one another, the course and issue of the courtship will be.”
Want to do your own Nut Crack Night divination? Select a pair of uncooked filberts. Assign a name to each for you and your lover. Place them in a pan over a fire, and watch to see what they do. Nuts that fly apart indicate that the relationship won’t last, but if they stay together, you’re practically guaranteed to be happy!
by Patti Wigington, ThoughtCo.com
Fritters are a nice variation on pancakes, and the bonus for this particular recipe is that they are sweet without any additions, requiring no syrup, sugar or jam. Many people have had fritters of various types, especially the popular apple variety. But . . . “elder flower” fritters? Yes, these actually contain elder flowers!
Flowers were a common ingredient in cooking during medieval times, which is where this recipe comes from (England, specifically). In this recipe’s case, the flowers mixed into the batter help add a kick and a minty taste.
Because of the elder flowers, these sweeties have been associated with faeries in folk myths. Because of that, they have been used at Pagan celebrations of Beltane, Litha, and Lughnasadh to help as a protection against the malevolent and mischievous fair folk, and sometimes these are even made at Samhain season as a symbol of keeping away bad spirits.
If you’ve never made a recipe incorporating flowers before, you might start with this one–you’ll be pleasantly surprised! (Read on after the directions for variations and notes.)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon rose water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups elder flowers, freshly picked and cleaned
Mix egg, rose water, honey, and brandy in a bowl, then stir in flour and cinnamon. Should be thick like pancake batter. (Add flour if it’s too thin, and add more brandy if it’s too thick.) Fold in the flowers. Fry like pancakes, OR drop by the teaspoonful into a deep-fat fryer until golden brown. Serve with orange water sprinkle and fresh lemon, or dip in sweet cream.
Yield: Fried like pancakes: About 10. Deep fat fryer: About 2 dozen.
Use for: Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Samhain, The Floralia
Source: A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook
Note: In many areas it may be tough to find fresh elder flowers. If you order from somewhere or pick them yourself, make sure they are the Nigra variety because there is a kind you shouldn’t use due to high toxicity.
IF YOU CANNOT FIND ELDER FLOWERS or you are squeamish about eating flowers, there is a variation:
You can make this recipe by substituting very finely diced apples–about a cup’s worth–for the flowers, and adding a little fresh mint. If you do do this substitution I urge you to not neglect the mint, because with either elder flowers or with apple-and-mint, the minty taste is really what makes it so good.
This is the day when all the saints are honored, especially those who do not have a day of their own. Following the triumph of the Holy Roman Empire over Celt-occupied lands in the 1st century A.D., the Romans incorporated many of the Celtic traditions, including Samhain, from which the holiday Halloween developed.
Eight hundred years later, the Roman Catholic Church further modified Samhain, designating November 1 as All Saints’ Day.The day was formerly known as Allhallowmas, hallow meaning to sanctify or make holy. All Saints’ Day is known in England as All Hallows’ Day, and the evening before is All Hallows’ Eve, the origin of the American word “Halloween.”