Monday, 3 November 2008

"It's Punkie Night Tonight..."

Or rather, it was, last Thursday!  The last Thursday in October each year is Punkie Night in our village in Somerset, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.  Luckily, half term was late this year and so we were able to join in with the Punkie Night celebrations.

The story behind Punkie Night is that the men of the village went out to a fair at nearby Chiselborough and having a jolly good time, had still not come home after dark.  The incensed wives of the village fashioned lanterns from a beet called a "mangel-wurzel" and used these to light the way as they went off in search of their men folk.  

So, off I trundled to the village shop first thing on Thursday morning to track down the highly sought-after mangel-wurzel.  Hmm, an attractive thing it is not.

Mr HenHouse set about the mangel-wurzel with various implements.  By the time he had finished, it looked even more scary!

The Munchkin was very enthusiastic about Punkie Night and seized upon the Punkie.  We took a hurricane lantern to join in with the "spirit of things"!

We set off at 6:30 for the village hall to find a startling array of ghosts and ghouls and... tv cameras! The village Punkie Night had made it onto "Points West", a local tv programme.   As we didn't know about this in advance, to set the video, we didn't actually get to see it!

There was a Punkie Night Queen and Princess, dressed in an apparently interesting mixture of typical "Disney Princess" style frou-frou gowns and witches' hats and cloaks! The head man is seen there in his white coat. We all followed him off round the village whilst he rang his bell and we all sang the Punkie Night song. Here, the Munchkin reveals the words for you...

How many times we sang those two short verses, I just don't know but one thing is for sure, it was a heck of a lot and I don't think I'll forget those words for a long time.   Before long, I couldn't feel my ears or my nose but it was a good, fun, evening and the children really loved it. Collections for charity were made along the way and the villagers (the clever but staid ones at home in the warm) opened their doors to say hello.

Having completed a circular of the village, we made haste back to the village hall for some warming refreshments. The village ladies had made these Punkie themed cookies.

One of the villagers had kindly brought along a barrel of home-brew cider. Now that really did get us warmed up. Err, Munchkin, you were only supposed to hold the cup whilst I took the photo...

The lanterns were judged up on the stage...

Ours was sadly not a winner!   There's always next year...

It was a very fun night and great to get involved with village life.  But it was even lovelier to return to our cosy cottage and snuggle down for Halloween...


  1. What a lovely evening you had....super Hen!
    Really enjoyed the first two "Hols" posts....:>)))

    Your cottage looks sweet....and cosy!

  2. Saw the Punkie Night on Points West looked great fun! Julie xxxxxxx

  3. i love these little village traditions :-) such a lovely thing for children to remember when they are older ! your wurzel whatsit looked like a winner to me :-D
    Lesley x

  4. Hello, great blog as always. I've sent you an award x

  5. Sounds like darn good fun to me.

  6. What a fantastic night that looks like. Well done on taking part. These village traditions are SO important, especially for the children.

    Sue xx

  7. Punkie night looked great. I wish we had that sort of thing here. Those cookies look scrummy too.

  8. That sounds as if it was great fun - and I love the pictures you took. I'd have munched my way through several of those biscuits! ;-)

  9. What a wonderful tradition Hen! It looked like a lot of fun. Kathryn. XX

  10. When I was little we used to go to my aunt and uncle's on Bonfire Night every year. We always carved out mangolds (mangel-wurzels). I don't know that anyone carved out pumpkins then - or maybe it was just because my other uncle was a dairy farmer and fed mangolds to his cattle, so was always happy to let us have a few. The scary thing is I realise I'm talking about 50 years ago!!!

  11. That looks like so much fun! I love how those lanterns turned out. Looks similar to our Halloween festivities in the US.

  12. It looks like very much fun. I remember an event called Sankt Martin, here in Germany, when we children holding our selfmade paper light. It was a great time. Such events are very importent for children, like the most of the writers wrote before.
    I love you blog.

  13. Such a nice story. Looks like you all had a very good time.
    And the cookies look yammy.


  14. Sounds like a really fun evening. I always thought Mangle Wurzles were 'made up' vegetables, not real! Your lantern reminds me of those my Dad used to do for my Sister and I on bonfire night. 30 odd years ago the shops were not full of pumpkins at this time of year(well not in east Yorkshire anyway)as they are now so Dad would make our lanterns from swedes! Unbelievably difficult to carve out. He used to have to take the electric drill to them to get them started. He made us them every year though.

  15. I love the sound of Punkie night, I must go find a mangle wurzle quick!

  16. sounds like a wonderful night!! village life is a dream for me at teh moment, your blogs only add to the appeal.

    Lucy x

  17. What a great night. It's lovely to hear of traditions still being upheld like this.

  18. Oh, I love traditions that are specific to one town or area! How fun.

  19. Glad to see someone has cobwebs as big as the ones in our house... what do you mean it's a decoration? t.xx


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