Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallow's Eve

Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.- - -William Shakespeare (a quote from "Macbeth")

The origins of Halloween are rooted in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off evil spirits. Samhain was the Celtic Lord of death and his name literally meant, "summer's end." The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st which marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark, winter. They believed that on October 31st, the eve of the Samhain, the dead would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness and damage crops. It was also believed that ghosts, witches, goblins and elves came to harm the people.
To protect themselves from these evil spirits, villagers would go from house to house gathering food offerings and kindling for the Samhain fires.
 The people would extinguish their home hearth fires and would gather together to light large fires on hill tops and make offerings to the gods.
They would dance around these bonfires to keep evil spirits away and the bones of dead animals were tossed into the fire and burnt as an offering and to ward off sickness and bad fortune in the coming new year.

The sacred fires were believed to have the power to scare away evil spirits and the villagers would stay close by the bonfire, often wearing the heads and skins of dead animals to scare the spirits and ensure their own safety. As the bonfire died, it was considered good luck to bring an ember home to relight their hearth fire. These embers were often carried in holders made from turnips or gourds that had faces carved in them to scare any evil spirits that might be lurking on their path home.
On the following day, the ashes from these sacred fires would be spread over the fields to protect next years crops from the evil spirits.
 This is where the "Feast of all Saints" or "All Soul's Day" has its connection to Halloween. For Catholics, it is the day where people come together and pray for the soul's of the dead who were waiting in Purgatory for entrance into Heaven. In Spanish speaking countries it is known as "Dia de los muertos" or Day of the Dead.
The name Halloween comes from "All Hallows Evening." "Hallow" is an old english word for "Holy Person" and All Hallows Day is another phrase for All Saint's Day. It eventually was shortened to "Hallow e'en" and then "Halloween."

Today, many people still celebrate with great bonfire's, dress in costume on Halloween and hand out candy at their door.
NY- Halloween Party on West 69th Street
Now that you know the history of this fun and frightening holiday, go out and enjoy and have a

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