Thursday, October 31, 2013
OCTOBER 31 = HALLOWEEN !!
OK.... well I guess that I have managed to more or less "dance" around the periphery of this rather goofy, yet very fun day for long enough. I've done many postings about Halloween-related things, even as you have seen, or you will see, the fact of Houdini's untimely death on this date. But now I shall at long last give you all some background on the day itself and how it came to be, as well as some bits about related icons. But I wish to point out to you at the very beginning of this posting instead of (just) at the end when I usually do it that the source for all of my info. on this subject is a fine and fascinating book which I have used many times before for this Blog, and that is "Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things" by Charles Panati. It is a superb resource for any and
"All Hallows Eve"; 5'th Century BC, Ireland.
These Ill Spirits, and the Reason for Dressing Up...
It was a Celtic belief that persons who had died during the previous year would gather up and choose the body of some living being to inhabit for
Romans, Immigrants, and the Conversion
The Romans adopted many of the Celtic practices during their long occupation of the British Ilses, but in 61 AD human sacrifice was outlawed, so they took up the Egyptian practice of consigning effigies to the flames (various statuette representations of persons who were important in the lives of Pharaohs). In time, as belief in evil spirits waned, many of these various Halloween practices lightened up into ritualized amusements (FUN STUFF!!). The Irish potato famine of the 1840's brought many new Irish immigrants to the United States, and they in turn brought many of their customs with them, including their old custom of Halloween dress-ups and mischief-making.
The "Jack O'- Lantern"
One of these customs became one which New England agricultural practices obliged them to modify into an old tradition of Halloween which is now quite familiar. The ancient Celts had followed a practice of carving out the insides of a large turnip and carving a demons face on it and then lighting the inside with a candle as a part of their spirit scaring ritual. These Irish immigrants found not so many turnips around in New England, but whole fields filled with pumpkins which were more than suitable substitutes. The term "Jack O'- Lantern"
"Trick or Treat"
According to Mr. Panati, the most accepted theory for the origin of this most fun part of the Halloween tradition has its roots in the mid-ninth century European custom of "souling". On "All Souls Day", went from one village to the other begging for square-shaped biscuits with currants called "soul-cakes". The beggars would promise to offer up prayers for the donors generosity, the bigger the cake, the bigger the prayers. This was important, because the amount of prayers a person amassed during his life would shorten his stay in limbo before entering heaven. So give me a big prayer cake it's a treat for you, but a small one made it a trick for me to play on you, I believe. So "Trick or Treat" in return for a nice "Snickers" bar is a small price to pay for your immortal soul, yes??FUN!!