Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Halloween and A Blessed Samhain to all!

A very spooky Halloween to you all. Beware the goblins and ghouls this haunted holiday. Watch for those who deceive with charismatic conversation and surreal magnetism. Be expecially care of those hunky shifters and weres. They can glamour the coldest, heartless witch this night! And have her trembling in her pointy little witchy boots...

Hello, my name is Callie Lynn, Senior Managing Editor of the Black Rose Line. I picked this special day because it is one of my personal favorite times of the year. I celebrate both Halloween and Samhain.

I thought it might be a good day to explore the meaning of each holiday.

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. Although the phrase All Hallows is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), All-Hallows-Even is itself not attested until 1556. (ref. wikipedia)

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 (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)", derived from the Old Irish Samuin meaning "summer's end." Samhain was the first and by far the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish calendar and, falling on the last day of Autumn, it was a time for stock-taking and preparation for the cold winter months ahead. There was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things would be most apt to happen. To ward off these spirits, the Irish built huge, symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice.

Snap-Apple Night (1832) by Daniel Maclise Depicts apple bobbing and divination games at a Halloween party in Blarney, Ireland.

Halloween is also thought to have been heavily influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints' Day (also known as Hallowmas, All Hallows, Hallowtide) and All Souls' Day. Falling on November 1st and 2nd, collectively they were a time for honoring the Saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach heaven. By the end of the 12th century they had become days of holy obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing bells for the souls in Purgatory and "souling," the custom of baking bread or soul cakes for "all crysten [christened] souls."

In Britain the rituals of Hallowtide and Halloween came under attack during the Reformation as protestants denounced Purgatory as a "popish" doctrine incompatible with the notion of predestination. In addition the increasing popularity of Guy Fawkes Night from 1605 on saw Halloween become eclipsed in Britain with the notable exception of Scotland.

North American almanacs of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century give no indication that Halloween was recognized as a holiday. The Puritans of New England maintained strong opposition to the holiday and it was not until the mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century that the holiday was introduced to the continent in earnest. Initially confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-nineteenth century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the twentieth century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds. (ref. Wikipedia)

There you have the formal history of Halloween. Today, the day represents a time where we can dress up and be anyone we want to be. Ghouls, vamps, ghosts, jack-o-laterns, wolfmen, Freddy or Michael have been joined by Sponge Bob, Princess Diana, President Bush, clowns, Raggety Anne/Andy, present TV/Movie characters or anyone/anything your little heart desires. Trick or Treaters are seen wondering on the streets, homes are decked out in yellow, orange, and black in the true spirit of the season much as we do for the Christmas/Winter Holidays. Along with this, I am sure to practice the more spirtual Samhain. In our house, we light tealights for all who have passed including pets! This is very important to me. Each tealight represents a specific person or pet.

So amongst the tricker treaters, the festive and ghoulish decor there is a deep spiritual meaning behind the holiday. Please take a moment and remember the lost ones. May their souls be blessed and move on.

Thank you for joining me today.

Blessed be,

Callie Lynn Wolfe
Senior Editor, Black Rose

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