back home, update, and 19th century fortune telling with eggs

I’m back home, and the ebay store is open again (yes, every in-house order was shipped before I left).  Just so people wouldn’t forget I existed, I put  up a couple of auctions while the store proper was closed.  There’s a Gran Bois rosary and a small paket ending tonight – bids for both are still really low, so it’s a great chance to get a bargain on handmade stuff!

My back is still not tip-top, though it’s better than it was the last full week of June, and it’s better than it was yesterday morning.  But I am not out of the woods on this one, unfortunately, so if I suddenly disappear again that’s why.  No out-out-of-town of any significant length planned anytime soon, though.

While I was home in Alabama, some relatives and I were going through some of my great grandmother’s old papers, and in a portion of her "memoirs" she related a game she and her brothers and sisters used to play, to tell who you would marry.

You had to do this on New Year’s Eve, the last night of April, or on Hallowe’en.  Whoever wanted to know their future mate would put an egg in the fireplace, before the fire, at 9 p.m.  That person had to sit by the fire, "not speaking or spitting," until midnight, at which point he or she would see the one destined to be the future spouse come in at midnight and turn the egg.

My great grandmother and her other siblings sat with her older brother one New Year’s Eve when he did this.  (She didn’t record the date, but she was born in 1886, and this happened while she was old enough to sit up with her siblings but before she married, so we’re sometime in the last decade of the 19th century or first of the 20th, most likely).  Nobody came in and turned the egg, and her younger brother got up after midnight, bored and jeering at the whole thing a bit, and poked it with a poker.  It promptly exploded, sending scalding bits of cooked egg and shell all over their hair and faces. 

This is similar to a number of other spouse-predicting spells in European traditions, involving eggs and/or special nights of the year, but for the curious, this particular event happened in central Alabama sometime near the turn of the century, in a very small farming community, with first and second generation settlers from all over Europe, so there’s not a particular "stamp" on this tradition.