|Old English Halloween Festivities|
In Ottery St Mary in the county of Devon, there is a custom which dates back to 1688 where on 5th November men run through the streets of the town carrying flaming barrels of tar around on their shoulders until they can no longer bear the heat or the weight. Another man then takes over, and then another, until the barrel starts disintegrating and is left to burn itself out. Earlier in the proceedings there are smaller boy’s and women’s barrels and, as the evening goes on, the barrels get bigger and heavier. One of the most sought after souvenirs is one of the metal rings from a burnt out barrel. The custom started as a pagan cleansing ritual, designed to clear the town of evil spirits. An alternative theory is that the burning barrels were used in shops as a form of fumigation.