In Roman times, the rites designed to appease the spirits of the dead and to drive away ghosts that were supposed to haunt the house were held on 9, 11, and 13 May during the festival called the Lemuria. (The lemures were the hostile spirits in contrast to the benevolent ones, or manes, worshipped in the Parentalia.) According to Lesley Adkins and Roy Adkins, authors of Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, "Each householder rose at midnight, made the mano fico sign ... and walked barefoot through the house. As he went he spat out nine black beans or else, having first washed his hands, cast black beans over his shoulder. These were for the ghosts to eat as ransom for the living members of the household whom the ghosts would otherwise carry off." Could this be the origin of


Licorice Jelly Beans

Ancient Lemuria,
Close in resemblance to
All Hallows Eve:
Manes and lemures
Look for those black beans, and
Then they will leave.