BOOK SOMERSET HOTELS

Join in

Send page to a friend

6132 views since 11th March 2011

Related links:

Events | Lore & Legend | Rather Interesting | Cultural Britain

Featured Destination

November 2018: The National Forest

It may be stating the obvious, but the best reason for visiting the National Forest in October is what New Englanders call leaf-peeping. Stuck in ...More
More Uk destinations

Punkie Night, Somerset

At roughly the same time as Halloween, and with so many similarities to the American tradition of carving pumpkin lanterns that one must have come from the other, though which is the original is open to debate, Punkie Night in various Somerset villages is a very localised custom. In times past the day seems to have been a moveable feast, but now the last Thursday in October is the settled date for the event.
Punkie Night sees children parading in the village streets, mixing some trick-or-treating in for good measure, while carrying punkie lanterns. These are carved from large wurzels, whose orange skin is again reminiscent of the pumpkin tradition. In fact the very word punkie may just be a childish corruption of the word pumpkin. The solidity of the wurzel allows for rather ghostly versions to be carved, with a thin layer of skin left to show the glow of the candle within. With three strings to dangle them from, or whatever other means can be devised, the punkies are carried about the villages, kids and adults alike occasionally breaking into the punkie song.
There is a local legend that punkie night celebrates events from hundreds of years ago, when men from the village went to a local fair, and were so late returning - or so drunk they were incapable of returning - that their wives went seeking them with improvised lanterns cut from wurzels. Whether this contains any truth or not is open to conjecture.
Any celebration that involves a bit of scariness and a lot of silliness is to be supported. And as a very regionalised tradition Punkie Night has something special about it too. So here's hoping Punkie Night carries on, whether it is a survival from medieval days, or something that started in the 20th century.

More British Folk Customs?

If you like this, Share it

Brit Quote:
The palace is not safe when the cottage is not happy. - Benjamin Disraeli
More Quotes

On this day:
Statute of Marlborough - 1267, Caxton Prints 1st Book in England - 1477, Table Tennis 1st played - 1889, Battle of the Somme Ends - 1916, Walton Sextuplets Born - 1983, Kings Cross Fire - 1987, Beirut Hostage Terry Waite Released - 1991
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages