A Somerset tradition called Punky Night still takes place on the last Thursday in October in Hinton St George. According to a local legend, all the men of Hinton St George went off to Chisleborough Fair, but to get home they had to cross a dangerous ford in the dark. The women decided to go out and meet them, and made lanterns from mangle wurzles (large root vegetables) hollowed out and fitted with candles. This seems to be a story to explain the tradition of Punkie Night, when children beg for candles to put inside carved mangles or turnips called ‘punkies’, though it seems to have more to do with Halloween (see below). The children go out in groups and march through the streets, their lanterns dangling on strings, singing traditional punkie songs:

It’s Punkie Night tonight; it’s Punkie Night tonight,

Give us a candle, give us a light,

If you don’t, you’ll get a fright

It’s Punkie Night tonight; it’s Punkie Night tonight,

Adam and Eve would never believe it, it’s Punkie Night tonight.

A punkie king and queen lead the proceedings, chosen for their lantern designs, which usually consist of flowers and animals rather than the more recent Halloween spooky offerings. [1]


[1] Brian Day, A Chronicle of Folk Customs, Hamlyn, London, 1998

Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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