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10/30/2008

Halloween Eve

Tomorrow is spooky day. The day before All Saints Day. The original name was All Hallows Even, or All Hallows Eve, each meaning the evening before All Hallows Day.

'Hallow' is a verb. It means to make sacred or holy. 'All Hallows' then, refers to all the souls made sacred by Sainthood in the Church. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to go from Saints in heaven to ghoulies and ghosties seeking treats from the living.

At least, for some people.

Actually, Halloween ties nicely into some old line pagan celebrations and ritual that never went away, but were instead absorbed into the celebrations of the Church. Ancient ancestor worship be came Halloween, the pagan celebrations related to the sun god (Roman) became the reason for celebrating Christmas in December - the early Church could celebrate while the rest of pagan Rome celebrated the return of the sun to northern climes, and not stand out.

Amazing how elastic the early church was - given how stiff and dogmatic the Church became over the centuries.

I hope the day finds you well. Be kind and generous to the spirits who come to visit you on this day. Although, truth be told and real traditional held to, they should only appear after the sun has departed the sky allowing the spirits of the dead to rise. For those that DO show up after dark, well, you just never know.

UPDATE: Beany of So Grateful To Be Mormon is missing and has been for 4 days. If anyone knows anything, call the family at 907-336-7321. They are, as you might expect, worried sick. Or leave an Anonymous comment here, if that's your wish.

27 comments:

Jientje said...

That's a very interesting post. Us, Europeans are not at all familiar with Halloween, only in recent years it's being celebrated. But I don't think we truly understand where it is coming from and what the actual meaning behind it is. It's mostly kid's stuff over here, and a little bit of scary decoration ...

Zoeyjane said...

Oh, I'll be lighting my candle and leaving it in the window.

Shadow said...

you sure are setting the scene nicely. will you post come after dark too?

nicole said...

Blessed Samhain to you :)

The "Pagan" ritual was for one to add some extra plates to the table when you eat, for your ancestors & dead friends that might visit.
It's also celebrating harvest,...
I usually celebrate it as my New Year as well.
Some make rituals where they write down things they want to change or forget on pieces of paper and burn them.

Michael said...

Thanks for all that, very interesting, Halloween is the day that the Lost World ends its production, a sad day for us all but I am just so fed up of it now, last night I felt so out of control of myself

Patsy said...

I'll try to keep Robert from snoring and disturbing any ghost that might be hanging around that evening. The full story is on last Wednesday's post.

witchypoo said...

You mean it didn't start out as disguised children begging candy and threatening vandalism to non-compliant citizens?

Ash said...

Blessed Samhain, my dear!!!

And for all things seen and unseen, this will be a magnificent year!

Tash said...

I like that "Be kind and generous to the spirits who come to visit you on this day" - think I'll apply that to living spirits as well.

Nice post Lou. Learn something new everyday eh!

Joyce-Anne said...

Halloween aside. I am disturbed that Beany is missing. Her disappearance is the third one I've heard of in the past week. I know there's not much I can do, but I will pray for her and her family. I hope they find her alive and well and very, very soon.

hockeychic said...

I like this post about Halloween and I've been thinking about how flexible the Church was in the beginning, probably because it wasn't the dominant thing at the time.

I have never ready Beany's blog but popped over there today. I hope she is home soon, this is so scary. I can only imagine what the family must be feeling.

Tara R. said...

Thank you for passing on the call for Beany.

Cathy said...

I've always found it fascinating how pagan celebrations turned into Christian ones.

LceeL said...

Jientje: And it's the Europeans who gave us Halloween.

Zoeyjane: Just call me sailor.

Shadow: Spooky story comes back tonight - at 12:01 AM.

Nicole: Thank you. And a Blessed Samhain to you, too.

Michael: Losing one's job is bad - and it would throw so many of us off kilter - well done you that you have a new job to go to and that you've kept your wits about you.

Patsy: I think I've heard him - on a clear and quiet night ....

Witchypoo: Children used to look like ghosts and ghoulies. Now they look like Barbie the Hooker.

Ash: Thank you, POHA. A Blessed Samhain to you, as well.

Tash: Do they do Halloween 'down the islands'?

Joyce-Anne: I don't know her. I have seen her name about, but I don't read her. But I am just unable to get this out of my mind, today. I keep going to her site, praying to find an update that says she's found, and O.K.

Hockeychic: Like I said - she's on my mind constantly.

Cathy: Smart dudes in the early Church. Drew in the pagans by incorporating their stuff.

Suzanne said...

I've seen Beany's name here and there. My thoughts are with her family and prayers that she's found safe and sound.

redchair said...

I saw a show on Discovery or History Channel that claimed they had evidence that Hallow’s Eve was actually 'a creation' of the Church to manipulate Pagans over to belief in Christian Doctrine (Something like that anyway.) I’m really anxious to read your spooky tale tomorrow! BooooOoooooOoooooOoooooooo.

Your friend Beany will be in my prayers.
Vikki

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

The intent was as Christianity spread to absorb anything that could be used as a teaching - ie eggs at Easter celebrating the Resurrection was a pagan new life tool. Obviously, you and I would disagree on current church ethics, but if you go back to the beginning, most of the same tenets and beliefs were still there. Take it from the history teacher.

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

Oh, and Happy All Saint's Day to you.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

I love the traditions of the way Mexico celebrates, El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). They remember their loved ones who have passed on -- I've heard even sometimes by picnicking in cemeteries.

LceeL said...

Suzanne: It's just crazy. She's been on my mind all day.

Redchair: Thank you, Vikki. I keep hoping she'll turn up.

AFF: I know MOST of the same beliefs and tenets were/are there. But MEN changed the church dramatically, early on. Mary Magdeline was held in much higher esteem by the very early Christians than she was later, after the Church codified its teachings.

Momisodes said...

I am such a wuss. I read dozens of scary stories in the blogosphere this week, and I'm totally spooked.

I'm terribly concerned about Beany. I hope her family hears something soon.

Sogeshirtsguy said...

Way to give us some history on halloween Lou. I hope Beany gets found.

Jientje said...

I have read some of the history on Halloween today, and indeed I was amazed that it actually originated in Europe. Celtic Europe, Ireland, UK and the Northern part of France that is. But this whole tradition of dressing up, trick or treat, pumpkin carving, and all of the scary stuff representing Halloween has never been part of my Belgian culture.
We do remember the dead on November 1st by putting flowers on the graves. November first was a sad day where I grew up, nothing festive about it. Widows crying over their dead husbands, things like that.

I just read your update, I hope they find her real soon, it must be terrible.

queenlint1 said...

Lou,
Excellent post! And thank you for pointing out how many pagan celebrations have been absorbed and altered by the Christians in order to calm the great unwashed.

To anglophilefootballfanatic:

Easter came from the very old pre-Olympian diaspora celebrated for the goddess, Oestara or Oester/Oestre. The eggs and rabbit where our current Easter bunny and his basket of eggs comes from are from Oester's sacred hare who she changed from a bird as punishment for being late in announcing spring. The hare was still able to lay eggs.

The Easter resurrection tale is to be found in many ancient religions where the culmination of the Spring fertility rites involved the burying of an old man under a rock or soil, fixing it shut, and returning days later to pull a young and virile man from the tomb to be consort to the local priestess representing the goddess. Just a dab o' human sacrifice involved working into the Crucifixion here.

The Jews use salty eggs to symbolize their ancestor's testicles being washed by water during their escape into the desert through the Red Sea. Also a dab of the Persephone tale of being taken by Hades, the devil for several months and then allowed to arise from the underground world into the light. You can see how they all tie in to the light vs. dark, punishment and sacrifice themes.

An interesting tale about masks and disguises on Halloween - the ancient celebration of Samhain which marked the turning of the year from warm to Winter - made the veil between the two worlds thin. During this time, offerings to the dead were given to keep them happy, rejuvenate the gifts left in their graves so that they didn't roam the street looking for victims to harangue. These are truly the Grateful Dead band.

To keep the spirits from recognizing them, folk would don fantastic masks representing forest animals or local gods. The Carnavale de Venise is a vestige of that celebration. It got to be so because the Church wanted to crack down on the peasants who were mingling out of their station while celebrating the Old Ways and the nobles who were out to party, gamble and frolic about with courtesans. The Carnivale is the subject of a new post of mine soon.

Hiding behind the mask, and later costume, was one of the ways to avoid the wrath of the village priest or possible death in extreme cases.

This was the old pagan new years and marked the beginning of the long watch of days while the Earth slept and was reborn at Oestre.

Lou is indeed correct in his analysis of early church absorbing the older pagan ones. I'm also in his corner with the lack of malleability of the church as it is today.

Lou is indeed correct in his analysis of early church absorbing the older pagan ones. I'm also in his corner with the lack of malleability of the church as it is today.

Take it from an anthropologist who never believes anything told me from whatever authority unless I research it myself.

Great post as always, Lou.
Your faithful lurker,
Dina

warriorwoman said...

Happy Samhain Lou.

MommyTime said...

Thanks, as always, for the little lessons in the post. I wonder if the dressing up and trick or treating comes from the notion of dressing up to fool the spirits and avoid being recognizable to those spirits who would do one harm? That was the origin of bridesmaids: to provide a "cover" for the bride, so that evildoers or evil spirits wouldn't be able to tell which was really the bride, and thus she would be kept safer. Like the president having multiple limos in his motorcade.

moneythoughts said...

My computer was in the shop and I almost missed your post, but I caught it and all the wonderful comments. You do get some interesting people reading your blog. It is good to know there are so many good heads out there. :)