Y’all want a soul cake?
Souling was a Christian practice carried out in many English towns on Halloween and Christmas, and is seen as the origin of the practice of trick-or-treating. A soul cake, sometimes referred to as a Hot Cross Bun, is a small round cake which is traditionally made for All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to commemorate the dead in the Christian tradition. The cakes were usually filled with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger or other sweet spices, raisins or currants, and before baking were topped with the mark of a cross to signify that these were alms.
In 1891, Rev. M. P. Holme of Tattenhall, Cheshire, collected the song traditionally sung during souling, from a little girl at the local school. In 1963, the American folk group Peter, Paul and Mary recorded this as “A’ Soalin”, including all the verses as well as parts of “Hey, Ho, Nobody Home” and “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” (which are traditionally associated with Christmas). The musical arrangement (including the accompaniment, chords, and interpolations from the other traditional songs) is quite different from the published 1893 version and was copyrighted by members of the group.
Peter, Paul and Mary – A Soalin’