Halloween, the time of ghosts and ghouls and all things black….?
Of course not, and nor was it always time for scary monsters. Halloween was originally, (and to many of us, still) Samhain, (pronounced Sow-en) The time of the winter start. As with most of our festivals and things taken over for religions purposes, it is of an older farming reference, more aligned to crops beginnings and ends than anything else.
Winter, a time of early nights and late mornings. Cold weather and not taking your clothes off for several more months as you covered yourself in goose fat and wrapped on layers for warmth.
Stories told on long nights around the fire, and crackling logs trying to keep off the snow from the cooking implements around the chimney.
Hours of preparing the vegetables and meats for storage in the sheds so they would last a whole season.
………….Sorry, got a little waylaid there imagining myself back on a farm in the days of yore….Thank goodness for freezers!
But what is Samhain specifically, and why is it now called Halloween now, with sweets, and kids (and adults) in costumes of Mummy’s and witches?
Samhain marked a very important time of the year when livestock was slaughtered and crops garnered. It was also a time when the otherworld was more liable to cross into ours as the night overtook the day, and people made offerings to them so they left the farms alone for the dark times. They also, as with most other festivals, marked a time when the otherworld creatures, both magical and deceased, walked the earth and the old pagan gods were asked for good luck and healthy living.
Great offerings were left outside the households doors and, if a past relative or ancestor might came calling among the dead, a place was set at the dinner table ready for them, and their food was dished up for them.
People would dress in disguise so they were not recognised by the dead, and they would go door to door telling stories, or singing, for food, and games were played in the village square. It was, therefore, a time of great reverence for the passed over, and also a celebration of the harvest ending.
Altogether, Samhain lasted a full week, with celebrations lasting 6 days and the day itself in the middle.
The original Jack’o’lantern were hollowed out turnips or swedes, now of course replaced by the larger pumpkin. As with Halloween, they were taken to America by the Irish immigrants.
I have only personally dressed up once…. Morticia Addams. LOVED that costume 🙂 I did think I may do it again this year, even though I am not going anywhere. I may have to scare some trick or treaters.
It is not too late to purchase something… I refuse to just wear a sheet and open the door as a ghost! One place I may look at is Costumes4Less as they love Halloween and have some great costumes. They also have a decider which is rather clever.