Actually, at my house it has never stopped, but that is due to my attacks of gout, the state of my rhumatism, my involuntary moans, and the pulling of the chain on my many daily visits to the smallest room.
I was always under the impression that the 31st October was a "semi-holy" evening/night, leading as it does to all saints day. Now the adults are so hung-over on the 1st November that the last thing they think about are Saints! True - certain of them do occasionally groan "Holy God - what a night!" or "By St Patrick-what happened?"
I recall in Scotland the evening of the 31st October. I could never understand it, because, here we all were, celebrating the existance of all things unholy, the unholier the better, things we were encouraged/ordered to ban from our minds over the year. AND we were celebrating the things in the church hall!
I mean - there was never any crass bad taste, the Reverend (my father) never ran around in the nude, chased by my mother or anybody else for example. My mother invariably was dressed up as the subject most dear to her heathen heart - A witch!
Forbidden all year (except tonight) she didn't need a great deal of make-up to fulfill her fantasies! I generally got to go as a ghost, same shirt/trousers/jacket etc as ever, but the lot covered with a sheet. This all stopped, finally, when my mother realised that the other boys' mums were using a better wash powder, and her sheets came out more under "mucky grey" than "snow white", and on top of which (on the year of her decision) that little devil (she meant me, again) had actually cut 2 holes into her sheet, making it useless for its original purpose. I did propose, in this case, that since it was now useless for her purposes, I could cut a third hole as a nose, and generally decorate it (to hide the "mucky grey"). This apparantly logical solution sent her into a rage, and only after I had once again had my backside beaten, could she relax into her normal "content with myself" and "that'll serve the little devil right" limbo!
I was used to all this, but I still couldn't figure out why the Church Secretary was allowed to prance around in very little dress, as a "nymph" or as a "fairy" (in those days the word was used in it's original sense) but only on this evening. Beleive me, it wasn't often a pretty sight!
We had the right to chase after jam covered raw apples hanging down from strings, with our hands tied behind our back. (A sort of mixture, I suppose, of desire for the forbidden fruit and being punished for it/ and bondage!) I do know for a fact that many a jammy countenance amongst the adults got cleaned off by zealous tongues!
We had the right, after this sticky game, to "dunk" for apples. This consisted of sticking your head in a great washing tub in zinc (yes, they still existed) in which apples were bobbing around as your reward. The hands still tied behind your back, I suppose this was carrying on the "bondage" theme, but at the same time getting yourself baptised for the sin of enjoying what was going on.
And there were things going on - at least, if I interprete correctly, the audible squeals and moans and frequent shouts of "Oh! My God" or "Yes - yes - my God! " coming from the darkened parts of the Church Hall. My parents NEVER ventured (and neither did any of the other authorative adults) into this "den of iniquity" right up the back in the dark! Maybe it was the witches and ghosts all having a ball of a time? The only adult I ever saw heading that way was the Choirmaster, with one of the choirboys in tow, but we were used to that scene, he was always doing it!
Anyway, we never actually got to hear or experience Midnight. I honestly beleive the adults actually feared the graveyards WOULD open, and we would all be hopping around the place with skeletons and witches and wizards and the devil himself. (The latter didn't bother her too much, since she had the devil personified at home).
When midnight sounded, everybody was in bed, with whom I don't know, but I do know that although I stayed up always (risking yet another beating) well beyond midnight on that night, I NEVER ever saw the least sign of anything unusual, unless you could count those hundreds of little green creatures dancing around on the field in front of the house, but then - I saw them often!
weather at Vauvert, France
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