Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Soul Cakes

The Cider Mill, 1880
John George Brown, 1831 -1913

Back in Medieval times, back before Halloween candy, there were Soul Cakes. The cakes had a twofold purpose -- an offering for the dead who might be back to visit; and a refreshment for the soulers who came a'souling from door to door (like trick - or - treaters / Christmas carolers), offering prayers and songs in return for treats. The prayerful Hallowmas Season comprised three consecutive holidays: Halloween (aka All Hallows' Eve) on October 31, All Saints' Day (aka All Hallows') on November 1, and All Souls' Day on November 2.

On their Holiday Celebration Album, Peter, Paul, and Mary sing a jolly good rendition, rousing but with a hint of ancient mystery. I have not yet discovered why they alter the spelling from soulin' to soalin' -- perhaps to avoid some taboo of invoking the dead souls from beyond the grave.


A Soalin'

Hey ho, nobody home, meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry, Hey ho, nobody home.
Hey ho, nobody home, Meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry, Hey ho, nobody home.
Hey Ho, nobody home.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

God bless the master of this house, and the mistress also
And all the little children that round your table grow.
The cattle in your stable and the dog by your front door
And all that dwell within your gates
we wish you ten times more.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

Go down into the cellar and see what you can find
If the barrels are not empty we hope you will be kind
We hope you will be kind with your apple and strawber'
For we'll come no more a 'soalin' till this time next year.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

The streets are very dirty, my shoes are very thin.
I have a little pocket to put a penny in.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha' penny then God bless you.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace..
This holy tide of Christmas of beauty and of grace,
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.


" . . . we'll come no more a 'soalin'
till this time next year . . . "

In addition to singing along with Peter, Paul, and Mary in the car, Ben and Sam got to experience the Soul Cake tradition firsthand as students at St. Peter's School in Philadelphia. Halloween Day was celebrated in the conventional way, with costumes, apple cider and donuts; All Saints Day was pretty much business as usual; then came All Souls Day with an all - school circle dance before school and the ceremonious distribution of "Soul Cakes" -- unceremoniously referred to by Sam as "stupid store - bought gingersnaps."

I tried to rectify the situation by baking a more authentic batch of Mrs. Sharp's Soul Cakes. These were not a big hit with the children. But that was fifteen years ago, so maybe it's time to try another batch:

Cream together:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar

Beat in:
3 eggs

Add & mix:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Sift & add to butter mixture:
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice

Stir in:
1/2 cup currants

Add to soften:
1/2 cup milk

Form into flat cakes & place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

****************

Some Modern - Day Soul Cakes
Everybody's Favorite Homemade Gingersnaps!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks to Victoria Amador for the link!

    Also on November 2nd: "Día De Los Muertos: Not ‘Mexican Halloween,’ but So Much More" by Alex Heigl
    http://people.com/human-interest/dia-de-los-muertos-not-mexican-halloween-but-so-much-more/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also from Vickie:

    https://www.facebook.com/victoria.amador.9849/posts/10155369261373976

    ReplyDelete