Punkie Night

Punkie Night is a festival celebrated in many villages in rural England, but is chiefly associated with Hinton St George in the county of Somerset. It takes place on the last Thursday of October, and has close links with the festival of Halloween.

A Punkie is a hollowed out Mangel-wurzel with shapes cut in the sides and a candle in the middle. It resembles a Jack o' Lantern in every way, other than the vegetable it is carved from. The children make Punkies and parade them through the village streets, hoping to recieve money or sweets from their neighbours. There is a song to accompany this.

It's Punkie Night tonight It's Punkie Night tonight Give us a candle, give us a light It's Punkie Night tonight

The accompanying legend says that the men of the village went to Chiselborough Fair, and became too inebriated to find their way home. Their wives made lanterns out of wurzels and went to fetch them. Why they could not use ordinary lanterns is unclear.

There are several villages that claim to be the birthplace of this peculiar festival. They all have their own versions of the legend. It is obvious that many of today's Halloween customs originated with, or share a common origin with Punkie Night.

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