Predicting the Future

On Christmas Eve, young girls would resort to certain customs to try to discover the name or, at least the initials, of their future husbands. One of these customs involved melting lead and letting it run into cold water through a key ring. From the tracery formed by the metal, girls would try to guess the initials of their future husband, his profession, his personality or his looks.

A young girl might fill a bowl with water and let it freeze on a window sill. On Christmas morning, she only had to look at the loops and whorls which had formed in the ice to discover her heartís desire.

A third practice was to peel an apple being careful to keep the peel in a single continuous ribbon. Then the peel would be reformed as closely as possible to look like the original apple. The peel would then be thrown on the floor from above the girlís head. She could then discover the initials of her future spouse from the design that the peel made on the floor.

In France, it was common to forecast the weather for the coming year by examining an ear of wheat on December 4, Saint Barbaraís Day, or the tops of onions filled with salt. The ashes in the hearth from the Yule log protected the house all year long against natural catastrophes: storms, lightning, fires. When soaked in water, they provided a cure for human and animal illnesses.