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Monday, October 19, 2020

Lore: The Curfew Bell...

We think of a curfew as a time to retire; as teens long ago, many had parental "curfews" meant to keep them safe and back in their homes, with curfews on school nights much earlier than those on the weekend or in summer. But the curfew bell does double duty, for the world of the living and the world of the unseen...

In olden times, towns and cities often had curfews set by the authorities. The "curfew bell" would ring loud and plain around 8 p.m., warning townspeople to get inside and prepare for bed. Townspeople hurried home, not wanting to be fined or jailed for being out after the last peal of the bell. Shutters, which were working protections at the time, unlike their decorative cousins of today, were hung or unfolded, and locked. Doors were locked as well, and many times so were gates. Fires were banked for the night, and children were put abed. Thus secured, adults sat by the still-warm stove and whiled the rest of the evening away until bedtime.

victorian painting of the curfew bell scared young lady

The curfew bell was a signal that the day was over -- to us in the realm of the living and the mundane. But to the denizens of "the other side," and the magical folk, the curfew bell was a glad sound, indicating they could now go abroad in the night, flitting and frisking until morning. As the last peal of the bell faded away, fairies and ghosts sashayed into the empty streets, until their own curfew sounded -- the first cock crow.

I love folklore, and this time of year, I enjoy scaring myself a bit with the less-upsetting lore. Do you know any low-octane spooky lore?

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

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