Did you know….Bobbing from apples came from the blending of Roman and Celtic traditions?
Bobbing for apples has become a staple in Halloween celebrations all over Midgard. Children look forward to this seemingly harmless tradition every year. Although great fun in modern times, bobbing for apples begins with the ancient Celts and Romans.
The Roman Festival of Pomona
Pomona, Goddess of fruitful abundance and the harvest often depicted with apples and was an important Goddess to the ancient Roman Folk. Her celebration usually happened in Mid-August as a Harvest celebration. The apple was an important symbol of fertility and her association with the apple was significant. When the Romans conquered and occupied the Celtic lands, they noticed that the Celts had a celebration at harvest’s end where divination with the use of apples was central. Roman chose to infuse their Goddess and celebration with the Celtic.
The veil between worlds is thin. Ancestors are near. So too are the malevolent spirits, the Celts dress in “guise” and carry turnip Jack-o-lanterns carved with “scary” faces to chase off dark spirits and clear the way for their dearly departed to come and commune with their kin. A powerful time when divination is crucial to ensuring the success of marriages, farms, the coming year. Samhain was a very important celebration to the Celts. This was the year ending, and year beginning.
The Apple and the Well
This powerful abundant fruit was a symbol of fertility
and the future. When cut along its width, it produces a pentagram, which to Romans and Celts (as well as many cultures) meant fertility and good fortune. A perfect medium used to blend two compatible cultures. Combine that apple with a well of water – another standard for foretelling – and you have bobbing for apples! Albeit in ancient times it was not for mere pleasure, it was used to bring young folk together to find mates for the coming year. Today we carry on this important ancient tradition for fun and connection to our ancestors.
Ancient Tradition – Modern Practice
Winter Nights is a celebration of life, the life of our ancestors, heroes, departed pets, and all others who have left this existence for another. We awaken the traditions of the ancients to bring understanding of our existence today. Although it seems that we are merely partaking in modern fun, we are actually keeping the ancient way alive year in, and year out. What better way to give honor to our ways then to have children partake in the activities. Children love bobbing for apples. An ancient echo? Inherent yearning? Mimicking modern practices? Whatever it maybe, our children love to celebrate, and it is great it can be something that is part of their ancestry!
How to bob for apples:
A deep round tub
Cold water (not too cold!)
It is very important that your well is deep enough and round that the kids cannot press the apples on the bottom. Also, the apples should be medium to large sized with all stems removed. This makes it more of a challenge.
Take a moment to teach the children (and adults) about the history of bobbing for apples. Maybe cut one open to reveal the pentagram.
Have the participants line up in single file. Each person gets 30 seconds to get an apple. You may want to give little ones a bit longer. The winner is the one that can get an apple. Keep the game going for as long as you like.
Make sure you towels handy and you are doing it either outside or on a floor that can get wet!
Have fun and remember the long tradition you are celebrating!