31 October and 1 and 2 November are called, colloquially (not officially), "Hallowtide" or the "Days of the Dead" because on these days we pray for or remember those who've left this world.
The days of the dead center around All Saints' Day (also known as All Hallows') on November 1, when we celebrate all the Saints in Heaven. On the day after All Hallows', we remember the saved souls who are in Purgatory being cleansed of the temporal effects of their sins before they can enter Heaven. The day that comes before All Hallows', though, is one on which we unofficially remember the damned and the reality of Hell. The schema, then, for the Days of the Dead looks like this:
unofficially recalls the souls of the damned. Practices center around the reality of Hell and how to avoid it.
set aside to officially honor the Church Triumphant. Practices center around recalling our great Saints, including those whose names are unknown to us and, so, are not canonized
set aside officially to pray for the Church Suffering (the souls in Purgatory). Practices center around praying for the souls in Purgatory, especially our loved ones
The earliest form of All Saints' (or "All Hallows'") was first celebrated in the 300s, but originally took place on 13 May, as it still does in some Eastern Churches. The Feast first commemorated only the martyrs, but came to include all of the Saints by 741. It was transferred to 1 November in 844 when Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel in St. Peter's Basilica to All Saints (so much for the theory that the day was fixed on 1 November because of a bunch of Irish pagans had harvest festivals at that time).
Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose original spelling was Samuin (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)". The name is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end". A similar festival was held by the ancient Britons and is known as Calan Gaeaf (pronounced Kálan Gái av).
Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise showing a Halloween party in Blarney, Ireland, in 1832. The young children on the right bob for apples. A couple in the center play a variant, which involves retrieving an apple hanging from a string. The couples at left play divination games.
The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year".
The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces.Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.
Another common practice was divination, which often involved the use of food and drink.
The name 'Halloween' and many of its present-day traditions derive from the Old English era.
Origin of name
The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Up through the early 20th century, the spelling "Hallowe'en" was frequently used, eliding the "v" and shortening the word. Although the phrase All Hallows is found in Old English (ealra hálȝena mæssedæȝ, the feast of all saints), All-Hallows-Even is itself not attested until 1556.
Jack-o'-lanterns in Kobe, Japan
Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time encompassing customs of medieval holy days as well as contemporary cultures. The souling practice of commemorating the souls in purgatory with candle lanterns carved from turnips, became adapted into the making of jack-o'-lanterns. In traditional Celtic Halloween festivals, large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces and placed in windows to ward off evil spirits. The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America where pumpkins are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips. Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their doorstep after dark. The American tradition of carving pumpkins preceded the Great Famine period of Irish immigration and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.
The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy). Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.
Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, magic, or mythical monsters. Traditional characters include ghosts, witches, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, demons, bats, and black cats. The colours black and orange are associated with the celebrations, perhaps because of the darkness of night and the colour of fire, autumn leaves or pumpkins.
Trick-or-treating and guising
Main article: Trick-or-treating
Trick-or-treating in Sweden.
Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In some parts of Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of trick, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, to earn their treats.
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas." The custom of wearing costumes and masks at Halloween goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.
American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of the holiday in the US; The Book of Hallowe'en (1919), and references souling in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America";
The taste in Hallowe'en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn's poem Hallowe'en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe'en is out of fashion now.
Kelley lived in Lynn, Massachusetts, a town with 4,500 Irish immigrants, 1,900 English immigrants, and 700 Scottish immigrants in 1920. In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; "Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Hallowe'en customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries".
At the time of substantial transatlantic Scottish and Irish immigration that brought the holiday to North America in the 19th century, Halloween in Scotland and Ireland had a strong tradition of "guising" — Scottish and Irish children disguised in costumes going from door to door requesting food or coins.
The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street "guising" (see below) on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs. Another isolated reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.
The earliest known use in print of the term "trick or treat" appears in 1927, from Blackie, Alberta, Canada:
Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.
The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. The editor of a collection of over 3,000 vintage Halloween postcards writes, "There are cards which mention the custom [of trick-or-treating] or show children in costumes at the doors, but as far as we can tell they were printed later than the 1920s and more than likely even the 1930s. Tricksters of various sorts are shown on the early postcards, but not the means of appeasing them".Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934,and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.
People dressing in Halloween Costumes in Dublin.
Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after monsters such as ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses.
Dressing up in costumes and going "guising" was prevalent in Scotland and Ireland at Halloween by the 19th century.Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in the US in the early 20th century, as often for adults as for children. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.
What sets Halloween costumes apart from costumes for other celebrations or days of dressing up is that they are often designed to imitate supernatural and scary beings. Costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils, or in more recent years such science fiction-inspired characters as aliens and superheroes. There are also costumes of pop culture figures like presidents, athletes, celebrities, or film, television, and cartoon characters. Another popular trend is for women (and in some cases, men) to use Halloween as an excuse to wear sexy or revealing costumes, showing off more skin than would be socially acceptable otherwise.
Halloween costume parties generally fall on, or around, 31 October, often falling on the Friday or Saturday prior to Halloween
Another source about halloween,says...........
All Souls' may have its origins in A.D. 1048 when the Bishop of Cluny decreed that the Benedictines of Cluny pray for the souls in Purgatory on this day. The practice spread until Pope Sylvester II recommended it for the entire Latin Church.
The Vigil of, or evening before, All Hallows' ("Hallows' Eve," or "Hallowe'en") came, in Irish popular piety, to be a day of remembering the dead who are neither in Purgatory or Heaven, but are damned, and these customs spread to many parts of the world. Thus we have the popular focus of Hallowe'en as the reality of Hell, hence its scary character and focus on evil and how to avoid it, the sad fate of the souls of the damned, etc. 1
How, or even whether, to celebrate Hallowe'en is a controversial topic in traditional circles. One hears too often that "Hallowe'en is a pagan holiday" -- an impossibility because "Hallowe'en," as said, means "All Hallows' Evening" which is as Catholic a holiday as one can get. Some say that the holiday actually stems from Samhain, a pagan Celtic celebration, or is Satanic, but this isn't true, either, any more than Christmas "stems from" the Druids' Yule, though popular customs that predated the Church may be involved in our celebrations (it is rather amusing that October 31 is also "Reformation Day" in Protestant circles -- the day to recall Luther's having nailed his 95 Theses to Wittenberg's cathedral door -- but Protestants who reject "Hallowe'en" because pagans used to do things on October 31 don't object to commemorating that event on this day).
Some traditional Catholics, objecting to the definite secularization of the holiday and to the myth that the entire thing is "pagan" to begin with, refuse to celebrate it in any way at all, etc. Other traditional Catholics celebrate it without qualm, though keeping it Catholic and staying far away from some of the ugliness that surrounds the day in the secular world. However one decides to spend the day, it is hoped that the facts are kept straight, and that Catholics refrain from judging other Catholics who decide to celebrate differently.
For those who do want to celebrate Hallowe'en, customs of this day are a mixture of Catholic popular devotions, and French, Irish, and English customs all mixed together. From the French we get the custom of dressing up, which originated during the time of the Black Death when artistic renderings of the dead known as the "Danse Macabre," were popular. These "Dances of Death" were also acted out by people who dressed as the dead. Later, these practices were moved to Hallowe'en when the Irish and French began to intermarry in America.
From the Irish come the carved Jack-o-lanterns, which were originally carved turnips. The legend surrounding the Jack-o-Lantern is this:
There once was an old drunken trickster named Jack, a man known so much for his miserly ways that he was known as "Stingy Jack," He loved making mischief on everyone -- even his own family, even the Devil himself! One day, he tricked Satan into climbing up an apple tree -- but
then carved Crosses on the trunk so the Devil couldn't get back down. He bargained with the Evil One, saying he would remove the Crosses only if the Devil would promise not to take his soul to Hell; to this, the Devil agreed.
After Jack died, after many years filled with vice, he went up to the Pearly Gates -- but was told by St. Peter that he was too miserable a creature to see the Face of Almighty God. But when he went to the Gates of Hell, he was reminded that he couldn't enter there, either! So, he was doomed to spend his eternity roaming the earth. The only good thing that happened to him was that the Devil threw him an ember from the burning pits to light his way, an ember he carried inside a hollowed-out, carved turnip.
And when you carve up your pumpkin, keep the seeds to roast! Here's a recipe:
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups pumpkin seeds (approx.)
2 TSP melted butter or oil (approx.)
Salt to taste
Optional: garlic powder; cayenne pepper; seasoned salt; Worcestershire Sauce; Cajun seasoning; or Hot Spice Mix (1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. chili powder)
Preheat oven to 300° F. Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or oil and any optional ingredients of your choice. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy. Store airtight.
Option: If you roast them without any of the above optional flavorings, you can now flavor them Spicy-Sweet by doing this:
Heat a TBSP of peanut oil in a skillet, add 2 TBSP sugar, and the seeds. Cook the pumpkin seeds over medium high heat for about 1 minute or until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize. Place pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and sprinkle with this mixture: 3 TBSP sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, and a pinch of ground cayenne pepper.
From the English Catholics we get begging from door to door, the earlier and more pure form of "trick-or-treating." Children would go about begging their neighbors for a "Soul Cake," for which they would say a prayer for those neighbors' dead. Instead of knocking on a door and saying the threatening, "Trick-or-treat" (or the ugly "Trick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat"), children would say either:
A Soul Cake, a Soul Cake,
have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake!
Soul, soul, an apple or two,
If you haven't an apple, a pear will do,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for the Man Who made us all.
While Soul Cakes were originally a type of shortbread, it is said that a clever medieval cook wanted to make Soul Cakes designed to remind people of eternity, so she cut a hole in the middle of round cakes before frying them, thereby inventing donuts! Fresh plain cake donuts would be a nice food to eat on this day.
Cake Doughnuts (makes 20)
2 quarts canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 packet active dry yeast or 0.6 ounces cake yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk
1 extra-large whole egg
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups nonmelting or confectioners' sugar
1. Heat oil in a low-sided six-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 375°. Lightly dust a baking pan with all-purpose flour, and line a second one with paper towels; set both aside.
2. Meanwhile, place sour cream in a heat-proof bowl or top of a double boiler; set over a pan of simmering water. Heat until warm to the touch. Remove from heat; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Make a large well; place yeast in center. Pour warm sour cream over yeast, and let sit 1 minute.
4. Place buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl; whisk to combine. Pour egg mixture over sour cream. Using a wooden spoon, gradually draw flour mixture into egg mixture, stirring until smooth before drawing in more flour. Continue until all flour mixture has been incorporated; dough will be very sticky.
5. Sift a heavy coat of flour onto a clean work surface. Turn out dough. Sift another heavy layer of flour over dough. Using your hands, pat dough until it is 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 3/4-inch doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts as close together as possible, dipping the cutter in flour before each cut. Transfer doughnuts to floured pan, and let rest 10 minutes, but not more.
6. Carefully transfer four doughnuts to hot oil. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over; continue cooking until evenly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to lined pan. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
7. Gather remaining dough scraps into a ball. Let rest 10 minutes; pat into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut, let rest 10 minutes, and cook.
8. When cool enough to handle, sift nonmelting sugar over tops; serve immediately. (Recipe from Martha Stewart).
Other customary foods for All Hallows' Eve include cider, nuts, popcorn, and apples -- best eaten around a bonfire or fireplace!
Another Hallowe'en custom is the old Celtic "bobbing for apples." To do this, fill a large tub two thirds full with water and float apples in it. Children take turns trying to pick up one of the floating apples using only their mouths (hands are not allowed and must be held or tied behind the back!) -- very tricky to do! The first to do so wins a prize (some say he will be the first one to marry someday). You can make the game more fun by carving an initial into the bottom of each apple, letting that initial indicate the name of the person each apple-bobber will marry, and/or using different colored apples with different assigned meanings or prizes. (You can play a dry version of this game by tying the stems of the apples to strings and suspending them. If you do this, carve any initials at the tops of the apples. Of course, all of this sort of thing is a parlor game and should never be taken seriously or cross the line into divination!)
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