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Samhain Countdown: Nut Crack Night

By Patti Wigington

For modern Pagans and Wiccans, divination is something for which we have practically unlimited tools. We have Tarot cards, scrying mirrors, runes, and all kinds of other goodies. However, for our ancestors, things weren’t quite so simple. Early divination was often done using only the items at hand — sticks, vegetable peels, cloud formations, etc. Around the end of the harvest season, there wasn’t often much left in the fields. However, nuts were often plentiful. Pecans, chestnuts, filberts and more would have been gathered up in baskets and stored, which made them the perfect medium for late fall divination. This is a similar holiday to Nutting Day, which falls in mid-September.

Filberts are the European variety of hazelnuts, and in some parts of England, they were used for divination purposes around Samhain night. In fact, for a while the practice was so popular that Halloween was sometimes referred to as Nut Crack Night. Filberts were placed in a pan over a fire and roasted. As they heated up, they would pop open. Young women watched the filberts carefully, because it was believed that if they popped enough to jump out of the pan, romantic success was guaranteed.

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