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PROEROSIA & PUANEPSIA
( GREEK )
Proerosia - approx. 20th of October -
Proerosia was an old Greek festival in which the fruits of the harvest were offered to the fertility goddess Demeter. Offerings were given in the hope that Demeter would bless the preparations for the ploughing and sowing, for October was an important time for the farmers, when they would sow certain crops. The legend of Proerosia holds that the festival began at the behest of the god Apollo, who said that, in exchange for an offering of fruits and cereals, good fortune would prevail and famine would end.
Puanepsia - approx. 22nd of October -
Puanepsia was a festival of late autumn fruit gathering and blessing bestowal. The festival was held in honor of Apollo, the sun god.
During the festivities, a procession of children would carry small tokens, called eiresione - which were often made of an olive or laurel branch decorated with small fruits and symbols of abundance. In a kind of Trick-or-Treat the children bring these to each house and sing:
“Th’ Eiresione bears rich cakes and figs and honey in a jar, and olive oil to sanctify yourself, and cups of mellow wine that you may drink and fall asleep.”
If the occupant of the house gave a gift to the children, he would be given an eiresione, and the yearlong blessing it conveyed. These were normally fastened above the door of the house for good luck.
VETURNAETUR - WINTER NIGHTS
( ICELANDIC & NORSE )
Mid October -
In the cold, dark North, where summer gives way easily to winter, the end of October was known as Veturnætur. The name Veturnætur stems from the Old Norse word vetr - meaning winter, and nætur - meaning nights. This important festival was mentioned in the Ynglinga saga as one of three great festivals - the other two being at midwinter and in the summertime.
Veturnætur was the time of the fall slaughter and harvest. Preparations were made for the long winter ahead. The animals that would not survive the winter were killed and the meat was stored in the frosty ground. In Iceland the month of November was called Gormánuáðr - 'gor-month,' or 'slaughtering-month'. Winter Nights marked the beginning of the hunting season too; as fresh food would become scarce, people relied more heavily on meat. People gathered their food, wood, coal, fruits and roots, storing these also. A feast was held to give thanks to the gods for the harvest bounty, and a sacrifice was made to earn their favour for the coming winter. During the feast and festivities, stories were shared, and it was a time to remember the ancestors and to show pride in their achievements during the previous year. This time was devoted mostly to the god Freyr - the god of agriculture, fertility and animals. This time of year was also marked by offerings to the elves, the dead and the dísir - the feminine spirits who protected those in their lineage.
( ROMANO EGYPTIAN )
Oct 28 - Nov 1
Not much is known about Isia - a festival held in honor of the goddess Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess of love, magic, death and rebirth. Philocalus records the dates of the Isia as October 28-November 1. Unfortunately that’s it. That’s all we know; that, in Rome, there was a festival of Isis at that time.
On one hand, this frees us to create our own Isia. Given the time of year, we might choose to connect the Isia with the modern festival of Halloween. Isis is, after all, a Goddess of the Dead par excellence. There is much we could do with an Isia in which we remembered our own Honored Dead, for example by speaking their names and making offering in the ancient Egyptian tradition..
On the other hand, there is - happily - an Egyptian option for the celebration of the Isia. Though perhaps it should be more rightly called the Osiria. For at about this same time of year, in the Egyptian month of Khoiak, the ancients held a festival for Osiris that remembered his conflict with his brother Set, his death, and his resurrection through the holy magic of Isis. We know of this festival from the period of the Middle Kingdom and have a decent record of it from the great Osirian sanctuary of Abydos. We also know of it from the Osiris chapel in Hathor’s Ptolemaic sanctuary at Denderah.
The festival re-enacted the central Isis-Osiris myth, of Isis searching for the scattered pieces of Osiris; finding them; reassembling him; mourning him; and finally resurrecting him. The Egyptians moulded images of Osiris from the Nile mud, special spices, talismanic stones, and seeds. The images were watered so that the grain sprouted, a fitting symbol of new life. For, this was about the time of year when the Nile flood was receding so that the fields could be sowed with new crops for the next season. The festival ended with the raising of the Djed pillar, symbol of the resurrection of the God Himself as Lord of the Otherworld.
( THE INCA EMPIRE )
Present day calendar : November
Inca Lunar Month : Ayamarca
Inca solar month : Irrigation of the corn fields
In the times of the Incas, the festival of the dead was conducted in this month. The mummified bodies of the great ancestors, often kings, and sometimes family, were brought to main square of the city. They were dressed in valuable clothes, and were offered foods. This was a kind of communion time, a sharing of space and food - as the villagers would sit and eat, sing and dance around the dead in an act of celebration of life, and reverence for those who came before. The practice has been passed down through many generations, and remnants of it still live on within some Central and South American communities. (For instance, see the festivals of Bolivia below.)
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS
( MEXICO )
Blah Blah Blah
FIESTA DE LAS ÑATITAS
( BOLIVIA )
The festivity of the Ñatitas is a traditional ritual of the Andes of Bolivia, which is celebrated every November 8 or 9, in gratitude for the deceased, for the favours and care that people receive from them. It consists of venerating one or several human skulls.
It is said that the rite dates from the pre-Columbian era, when the deceased were worshiped and taken out on litter so that they could meet again with their ajayus ( Aymara word meaning "soul", "soul" or "spirit") and their families . Currently, the skulls are celebrated with music, sweets, alcohol , coca and cigiari. Also with great parties called prestas and catholic masses. The General Cemetery of La Paz receives thousands of visitors every year. Regarding the origin of the heads, they end up being extracted from forgotten tombs in the same cemetery, or they are the remains of relatives who pass from generation to generation. The devotees keep them in their houses inside urns. 3 Tradition says that the Ñatitas protect the families that conserve them: they help their businesses prosper, they take care of the houses of possible thieves, they watch over the health of their owners, they help to find a partner and protect from evil spirits, among other benefits . Every year at the break of dawn on November 9, those who still follow this custom take the skulls of their ancestors, late relatives and friends, wrap them in plastic bags and take them to the main cemetery in La Paz. The skulls are decorated with flowers, coca leaves and candles. The observers of this tradition believe that the skulls of the dead will protect the living and bring them luck.
Pitru Paksha (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष), also spelt as Pitri paksha, Pitr Paksha (literally "fortnight of the ancestors") is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestor (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitru Pakshya, Pitri Pokkho, Sola Shraddha ("sixteen shraddhas"), Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya Paksha and Apara paksha.
Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddhaor Tarpan. In southern and western India, it falls in the 2nd paksha (fortnight) Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September)
(POLAND & CZECH AND SLOVAKIA)
In this part of Europe, All Saints is a weeklong affair welcoming deceased souls back to the land of the living, starting November 1st. In countries like Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia, locals decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers and candles or lamps. It’s the perfect time of year for a moonlit stroll around historic cemeteries—even the abandoned tombs of the long dead are cleaned up and decorated this time of year. In Poland, All Saints and All Souls, or Zaduszki, is still so widely celebrated that there’s heavy traffic on routes to cemeteries and the holiday has become notorious for on-top-of grave robbing, as thieves steal and resell funerary lamps and wreaths.
Most of these traditions are derived from a Slavic holiday called Dzaidy, when the ghosts of ancestors and relatives were summoned to dine in the homes of the living. The lamps and candles used to illuminate graveyards are what remain of the ancient rites of lighting fires on burial grounds to keep lost souls warm. Spitting and heavy work are still frowned upon on these dates, out of respect for the dead. Houses are cleaned, doors are left open, and food and toiletries are put out to welcome the dearly departed. Czechs and Slovaks toast the deceased with cold milk to cool the souls roasting in purgatory and place chairs by the fireside on so that loved ones, from this world and the next, can sit and spend time together.
The commemoration took place twice every year (in spring and in autumn), but nowadays it is usually held around end of October. During the feast the Slavs perform libations and eat ritual meals, to celebrate the living and the souls of the forefathers who joined the dziady after dark.
In Belarus, Dziady (Дзяды) usually took place on the last Saturday before St. Dmitry's day, at the end of October/beginning of November (Dźmitreuskija dziady, St. Dmitry's Dziady). There were also Trinity Day Dziady, Shrovetide Dziady, and some other dates. Today, it is celebrated on November 2.
ILGES / VELINES
( LITHUANIA )
Velines: Feast for the Dead
Velines is the ancient Lithuanian holiday to commemorate the dead. Traditionally, it began after completion of all the fall harvest celebrations and used to be celebrated for four weeks in October, culminating on the first weekend in November. Under Christian influence, the festival was forcibly reduced to one day, November 2nd.
At home, memorial meals used to be repeatedly held to remember the dead of the family or of the village. Since for centuries Lithuanian farmers lived in the same homesteads as their ancestors, it was believed that the veles of the ancestors protected and helped their children and blessed their lands. Therefore, the head of the household with candles in hand circled the family lands or at least the family house in preparation for Velines.
As with all holidays, the pirtis or sauna bath preceded the meal. The pirtis is a wood-stoked steam sauna heated by hot rocks. The oven of the pirtis is heated for 3-4 hours, making the rocks inside red-hot. Men precede women and children in the pirtis. Hot water is poured on the rocks, filling the room with hot vapours. Entering the pirtis alternates with swimming in a river or lake several times. While in the pirtis, people beat themselves with vantai (birch tree) branches to stimulate circulation. During the last visit to the pirtis, people wash with soap. For Velines, the pirtis was re-heated after the women left and everything was left for the veles to bathe.
The guests gathered at the table in silence. The meals always began with invitations of the veles into the home and prayers to them, requesting health for the people and animals, and a bountiful harvest for the fields. In some places this ritual took place in total darkness, in other places by candlelight. A door or a window to the outdoors would be left open in order to give the veles a method of entering the home. In ancient times, the zynys (semi-prophetic Pagan priest in charge of funerals and Velines celebrations) led this part of the ritual. The following prayer was recorded in Lyda: “Veles of the dead, whom we still remember in this home; respected ancestors of our family; honoured women and men worthy of eternal remembrance; especially my grandmother and grandfather, mother and father (naming specific names as appropriate); also relatives, children and all, whom death took from this home, we invite to our annual feast. May it be as pleasant for you, as your memory is for us.” In some places, all those present named all the dead they wished to remember.
The invocations included beer libations. In ancient Lithuanian religion, beer was the sacrificial drink. At Velines, everybody -rich and poor- acquired beer, even if they could normally not afford it. A prayer would be said and dainos for Velines would be sung, then some of the beer would be sacrificed by pouring it on the ground. The libation included the words: “This is for you, vele,” or similar words. After that, everybody present drank from the special cup, used only for commemorations of the dead. In some parts of Lithuanian, this ritual was very complex.
The meals would normally contain no meat or fish, although some parts of Lithuania insisted on blood sausage, pork and poultry being served in the meal. Dark and red dishes (symbolizing blood) made with beets would be served along side grain, legume and cheese dishes. The grain and legume salad sweetened with honey know as kucia would be served. In Lithuanian folklore, this is the traditional dish for feeding veles. In some locations 12 or 13 dishes would be served, symbolizing the solar or lunar year. Pancakes and small rolls- one for each living and dead family member- were popular in some parts of Lithuania.
The dead would be called to eat, as follows: “Sit and eat as the Gods allow.” After some silent time, the living would sit down at the table to eat. The first morsel from every dish would be sacrificed to the veles. In some places, this meant “pouring” it as a libation on the floor. In other places, the food was placed on a special dish. This dish would be placed at the corner of the table or on a table in the honoured corner of the room. Food would also be offered to the dead by sacrificing it in the hearth. In Vilnius, the prayer read as follows: “Remember the ones who burned to death, who drowned, who died from falling trees or from lightning bolts. Remember those exiled to foreign lands, the tired and those who died in accidents. Come, veles, drink and eat with us.”
This prayer was obviously directed to Gabija or Gabjaujis, the Goddess of the Hearth Flame or the God of the Protected Fire. Aromatic grasses would also be smouldered.
In addition to members of the family, lonely persons and elgetas (beggars) would be invited to the meal. The elgetas survived by living off donations and by wandering from village to village. They were once viewed as religious hermits who could easily contact the veles and the Gods. An elgeta did not have to be poor. Even rich people took up being an elgeta for periods of time, during which they lived off alms they received. Other elgetas were the wandering poor and homeless. Food for the elgetas as well as for the wandering veles would be placed on the house porch or outdoors underneath the kitchen window. Folk wisdom says, “What you do for an elgeta, you do for a vele.”
During the meal in ancient times, the zynys would watch for signs from the veles in attendance. In later times, one could see veles in the steam rising from food, in the reflection on the window, in the reflection on the inside of rings, and in dreams. The meal concluded with Velines dainos and folk dances, in which the veles also participated.
After the meal, the dead would be asked to return whence they came with the following or similar words: “Grant us, veles; be healthy, Godspeed, bless our relatives, peace to this home! Return to where destiny leads you, and remember not to do any harm to our yard, garden grove, and fields.” Then everyone would repeat: “There is, there is not even a spirit here.”
During Velines, people would also visit the graves of the dead. Cemeteries used to be located in villages, indication a close relation between the living and the dead. numerous candles would be lit at the graves of the dead, as still is done today. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, food from the Velines meals would be placed on the graves of the dead, again to feed the veles.
( GERMANY )
Normally, the ancestors day is held at the 1st day of November in the case of the celtic old pagan beliefs, after Samhain at the 31st of October, or in the midle of October with the Dísablót and the Alfablót, which are specific celebrations for the ancestors in the old traditional paganism of the northern lands of Europe.
But in the northern neo-pagan beliefs and germanic reconstructionism there is the existence of the Ancestors blót at the 11th of November, which consists in a celebration, or a blót, to the ancestors, as the name indicates. This celebration is different from the old celebrations to the ancestors, when these feasts were just a family gathering, at the farmsteads, honoring the dead, offering food and drink to the gods and the landspirits, feasts that would also take place at the sacred mounds of the family, and only family members could be around, no other person was welcomed. The celebration of the 11th of November is also a gathering, but in these times of change, all are welcomed to join the feasts and remembering the ancestors of each family, in fact, the main objective, is to remember the ancestors as a whole group of people who used to live in this world, and take care of the land.
In Germany, kids carve Rübengeister, root monsters, from beets or turnips to scare away bad spirits and their parents put away knives before bed to keep the departed from harming themselves.
Around Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Protestants honor Martin Luther’s birthday on November 10th, and Catholics celebrate St. Martin’s Day, on November 11th. Most Martin-themed events involve students singing for treats door-to-door or in street processions, marking the time of year when farm-workers’ children went to the houses of wealthy land-owners caroling, begging for food and gifts to get their families through the winter after their parents were dismissed to survive the coldest part of the year with no income.
( EAST FRIESLAND GERMANY )
Martinisingen is a custom with a mix of several older elements. Traditionally 10 November was the day on which farmhands and ordinary workers were dismissed for the winter. These folk, most of whom had no property, then had to survive the coldest time of the year without any income. However, their children were able to help by going from house to house on this day and begging for food and gifts, especially from the well-to-do farmers and citizens. Originally they collected food that was then actually stored as part of their family's winter stock and could be consumed gradually. Sometimes rather older singers disguised themselves or wore masks (sğabellenskoppen) and joined in.
Later, the gifts given out increasingly became a symbolic donation and, today, usually consist of sweets and fruit. The traditional gifts, by contrast, include gingerbread men (Stutenkerl), honey cakes (Moppen) and Pfeffernüsse (pēpernööten) as well as apples.
The poor folk begged for gifts by reciting rhyming verses or singing suitable songs and the children carried lanterns (kipkapköögels) that used to be made from a beet. Later small pumpkins were occasionally used as well, but gradually, these were replaced by coloured paper lanterns as are common today. Various home-made instruments were also used such as rattles (Rasseln) and friction drums (Rummelpott).
With the outbreak of the Reformation the original motive of begging to supplement winter food supplies became interwoven with religious aspects, particularly those honouring the reformer, Martin Luther, and the festival became the Protestant church's version of the original Catholic tradition. In 1817, on the occasion of the tricentennial anniversary of the Reformation in 1517, Martinisingen was brought forward to the eve of St. Martin's Day. From then on, only Martin Luther continued to be celebrated as the "Friend of light and man of God" (Freund des Lichts und Mann Gottes) who "knocked the crown off the pope in Rome" (der dem Papst in Rom die Krone vom Haupt schlug). For example, St. Martin's Day for Martin of Tours on the 11th was brought forward and combined with Martinisingen on the 10th, the birthday of the Reformer. So, increasingly, the custom of Martinisingen became a celebration of Martin Luther and the motive of begging for food was explained as a tradition of the monastic orders. The traditional songs were given a religious flavour and new ones were written that celebrated the religious significance of the day or honoured Martin Luther.
Today children go through the suburbs from door to door after the onset of dusk carrying lanterns and singing Martinilieder or St Martin's Eve songs. The light in the lantern is often no longer a candle but electric because, in the November winds, the lanterns often caught fire (hence the verse in the song "Lanterns, Lanterns" which runs "burn up my light, but not my precious lantern"). But, as before the lanterns are often home-made from coloured paper.
About Matten Matten Mären the Hannoversche Wochenblatt weekly paper writes:
There is a hard and fast rule today as there always has been: Whoever gives nothing, will have a prank played on them
so even in East Frisian-North German areas those who do not give anything can expect to have their doorbells rung later on in the evening or other similar 'joke'; equally those who do not sing, also get nothing.
FEAST OF HOD
Old anglo teutonic feast marking Hod (God of Darkness) unintentionally killing Balder, God of Light. His love Nanna, Goddess of Flowers dyes of a broken hearts. The dead are honoured.
Calan Gaeaf is the name of the first day of winter in Wales, observed on 1 November. The night before is Nos Galan Gaeaf or Noson Galan Gaeaf, an Ysbrydnos when spirits are abroad. People avoid churchyards, stiles, and crossroads, since spirits are thought to gather there.
Children and women would dance around a village fire and, during this process, everyone would write their names on rocks and place them in and around said fire. When the fire started to die out they would all run home- whereas if they stayed, 'Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta' (a bad omen that took the form of a tailless black sow with a headless woman) would devour their souls. It is believed that the traditions and stories surrounding 'Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta' were survived by local parents as a means of ensuring their children would return home safely and as early as possible on this cold, dark night. One particular rhyme shows how the last child out on Nos Calan Gaeaf was at risk of being eaten by the fearsome beast:
Adref, adref, am y cyntaf', Hwch ddu gwta a gipio'r ola'.
(Home, home, at once, The tailess black sow shall snatch the last [one].)
The following morning, all the stones containing villagers' names would be checked. If, however, a stone was missing, the person who wrote their name on the stone would die within one year.
Coelcerth: Families build a fire and place stones with their names on it. The person whose stone is missing the next morning would die within the year
Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta: Legend has it that a fearsome spirit called Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta took the form of a tail-less black sow and roamed the countryside with a headless woman – children would rush home early
Eiddiorwg Dalen: A few leaves of ground ivy is thought to give you the power to see hags. For prophetic dreams a boy should cut ten ivy leaves, throw away one and put the rest under his head before he sleeps. A girl should take a wild rose grown into a hoop, creep through it three times, cut it in silence, and go to bed with it under her pillow
Teiliwr: In Glamorgan tailors were associated with witchcraft. They supposedly possessed the power to ‘bewitch’ anybody if they wished
Twco Fala/fale: Apple bobbing
Allantide (Cornish: Kalan Gwav, meaning first day of winter, or Nos Kalan Gwav, meaning eve of the first day of winter and Dy' Halan Gwav, meaning day of the first day of winter), also known as Saint Allan's Day or the Feast of Saint Allan, is a Cornish festival that was traditionally celebrated on the night of 31 October, as well as the following day time, and known elsewhere as Allhallowtide. The festival, in Cornwall is the liturgical feast day of St Allan (also spelled St Allen or St Arlan), who was the bishop of Quimper in the sixth century. As such, Allantide is also known as Allan Night and Allan Day. The origins of the name Allantide also probably stem from the same sources as Hollantide (Wales and the Isle of Man) and Hallowe'en itself.
As with the start of the celebration of Allhallowtide in the rest of Christendom, church bells were rung in order to comfort Christian souls in the intermediate state. Another important part of this festival was the giving of Allan apples, large glossy red apples that were highly polished, to family and friends as tokens of good luck. Allan apple markets used to be held throughout West Cornwall in the run up to the feast.
"The shops in Penzance would display Allan apples, which were highly polished large apples. On the day itself, these apples were given as gifts to each member of the family as a token of good luck. Older girls would place these apples under their pillows and hope to dream of the person whom they would one day marry. A local game is also recorded where two pieces of wood were nailed together in the shape of a cross. It was then suspended with 4 candles on each outcrop of the cross shape. Allan apples would then be suspended under the cross. The goal of the game was to catch the apples in your mouth, with hot wax being the penalty for slowness or inaccuracy."
There are a number of divination games recorded including the throwing of wall nuts in fires to predict the fidelity of partners and the pouring of molten lead into cold water as a way of predicting the occupation of future husbands, the shape of the solidified lead somehow indicating this.
ALL HALLOWS EVE / ALL HALLOWS TIDE / ALL SOULS DAY
( WESTERNISED CHRISTIAN COUNTRIES - ENGLAND, IRELAND, SCOTLAND, FRANCE ITALY… etc )
celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.
The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word "Hallowe'en" means "hallowedevening" or "holy evening". It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). In Scots, the word "eve" is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een.
In the 9th century AD, the Western Christian Church shifted the date of All Saints' Day from the month of May to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls' Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints'/All Souls' merged to create the modern Halloween
The Roman Catholic holy day of All Saints (or All Hallows) was introduced in the year 609, but was originally celebrated on 13 May. In 835, Louis the Pious switched it to 1 November in the Carolingian Empire, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV. However, from the testimony of Pseudo-Bede, it is known that churches in what are now England and Germany were already celebrating All Saints on 1 November at the beginning of the 8th century. Thus, Louis merely made official the custom of celebrating it on 1 November. James Frazer suggests that 1 November was chosen because it was the date of the Celtic festival of the dead (Samhain) – the Celts had influenced their English neighbours, and English missionaries had influenced the Germans. However, Ronald Hutton points out that, according to Óengus of Tallaght (d. ca. 824), the 7th/8th century church in Ireland celebrated All Saints on 20 April. He suggests that the 1 November date was a Germanic rather than a Celtic idea. In the 11th century, 2 November became established as All Souls' Day. This created the three-day observance known as Allhallowtide: All Hallows' Eve (31 October), All Hallows' Day (1 November), and All Souls' Day (2 November).
In 835, All Hallows' Day was officially switched to 1 November, the same date as Samhain, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV. Some suggest this was due to Celtic influence, while others suggest it was a Germanic idea, although it is claimed that both Germanic and Celtic-speaking peoples commemorated the dead at the beginning of winter. They may have seen it as the most fitting time to do so, as it is a time of 'dying' in nature
By the end of the 12th century they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing church bells for the souls in purgatory. In addition, "it was customary for criers dressed in black to parade the streets, ringing a bell of mournful sound and calling on all good Christians to remember the poor souls." "Souling", the custom of baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls, has been suggested as the origin of trick-or-treating. The custom dates back at least as far as the 15th century and was found in parts of England, Flanders, Germany and Austria. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collecting soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the dead, especially the souls of the givers' friends and relatives. Soul cakes would also be offered for the souls themselves to eat, or the 'soulers' would act as their representatives
On the custom of wearing costumes, Christian minister Prince Sorie Conteh wrote: "It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognized by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities
On Halloween, in medieval Europe, fires served a dual purpose, being lit to guide returning souls to the homes of their families, as well as to deflect demons from haunting sincere Christian folk.
Traditionally in France, we celebrate the Catholic holiday of "la Toussaint", which is on November 1. It's a rather sad celebration when family mourn their dead and go to the cemetery to clean up the tombs, bring flowers and pray. There is often a family meal, but no special tradition about the food. We bring "des chrysanthèmes" (a type of flower usually called mums, from the Latin chrysanthemum) because they still bloom at this time of the year.
Many Christians in mainland Europe, especially in France, believed "that once a year, on Hallowe'en, the dead of the churchyards rose for one wild, hideous carnival" known as the danse macabre, which has often been depicted in church decoration.[
This danse macabre was enacted at village pageants and at court masques, with people "dressing up as corpses from various strata of society", and may have been the origin of modern-day Halloween costume parties
Italy and Spain and Portugal
Special food and a day off are a common theme in these Southern European countries, where the faithful pray for the deceased and leave flowers on their graves.
Bakers prepare unusual sweets around Spain and Italy from late October to early November. All around Spain, you can buy Huesos de Santo, cylindrical marzipan cookies filled with candied egg yolk said to resemble the bones of Saints. While Sicilians make their own bony cookies scented with cloves, delicate Fava-bean-shaped cakes called Fava dei Morti are ubiquitous throughout Italy. In an interesting twist, in Rome and surrounding areas, on November 2nd, young men hide rings in boxes of "dead bean" cakes, propose marriage, and depending on their luck, announce engagements. Further south, in Sicily, children believe that if they’re good and pray for the dead all year, the departed will bring them candy dolls.
In Italy All Saints' Day is a public holiday. On 1 November, Tutti i Morti or All Souls' Day, families remember loved ones who have died. These are still the main holidays. In some Italian tradition, children would awake on the morning of All Saints or All Souls to find small gifts from their deceased ancestors. In Sardinia, Concas de Mortu (Head of the deads), carved pumpkins that look like skulls, with candles inside are displayed
in Spain, Christian priests in tiny villages toll their church bells in order to remind their congregants to remember the dead on All Hallows' Eve
For Tosantos in Cadiz, Spain, locals dress up the livestock at market, and make effigies of politicians and celebrities out of fruits, vegetables and nuts on October 31st. A day later, in Extremadura, young people go from door to door singing and begging for fruits in season like walnuts, chestnuts, and pomegranates.
( IRELAND, SCOTLAND & ENGLAND )
pronounced: “sow-in” or “sah-win”
( MANY WESTERN COUNTRIES )
Hutton writes: "When imitating malignant spirits it was a very short step from guising to playing pranks". Playing pranks at Samhain is recorded in the Scottish Highlands as far back as 1736 and was also common in Ireland, which led to Samhain being nicknamed "Mischief Night" in some parts. Wearing costumes at Halloween spread to England in the 20th century, as did the custom of playing pranks, though there had been mumming at other festivals. At the time of mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration, which popularised Halloween in North America, Halloween in Ireland and Scotland had a strong tradition of guising and pranks. Trick-or-treating may have come from the custom of going door-to-door collecting food for Samhain feasts, fuel for Samhain bonfires and/or offerings for the aos sí. Alternatively, it may have come from the All Saints/All Souls custom of collecting soul cakes.
The "traditional illumination for guisers or pranksters abroad on the night in some places was provided by turnips or mangel wurzels, hollowed out to act as lanterns and often carved with grotesque faces". They were also set on windowsills. By those who made them, the lanterns were variously said to represent the spirits or supernatural beings, or were used to ward off evil spirits. These were common in parts of Ireland and the Scotland into the 20th century. They were also found in Somerset (see Punkie Night). In the 20th century they spread to other parts of England and became generally known as jack-o'-lanterns.
This danse macabre was enacted at village pageants and at court masques, with people "dressing up as corpses from various strata of society", and may have been the origin of modern-day Halloween costume parties
Mark Donnelly, a professor of medieval archæology, and historian Daniel Diehl, with regard to the evil spirits, on Halloween, write that "barns and homes were blessed to protect people and livestock from the effect of witches, who were believed to accompany the malignant spirits as they traveled the earth.
In England, from the medieval period, up until the 1930s, people practiced the Christian custom of souling on Halloween, which involved groups of soulers, both Protestant and Catholic, going from parish to parish, begging the rich for soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the souls of the givers and their friends.[
Several of the traditional activities from Ireland and Britain involve foretelling one's future partner or spouse. An apple would be peeled in one long strip, then the peel tossed over the shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse's name. Two hazelnuts would be roasted near a fire; one named for the person roasting them and the other for the person they desire. If the nuts jump away from the heat, it is a bad sign, but if the nuts roast quietly it foretells a good match. A salty oatmeal bannock would be baked; the person would eat it in three bites and then go to bed in silence without anything to drink. This is said to result in a dream in which their future spouse offers them a drink to quench their thirst. Unmarried women were told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear. The custom was widespread enough to be commemorated on greeting cards from the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows' Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular
Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" implies a "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. The practice is said to have roots in the medieval practice of mumming, which is closely related to souling.John Pymm writes that "many of the feast days associated with the presentation of mumming plays were celebrated by the Christian Church." These feast days included All Hallows' Eve, Christmas, Twelfth Night and Shrove Tuesday. Mumming practiced in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, involved masked persons in fancy dress who "paraded the streets and entered houses to dance or play dice in silence".
Jack-o'-lanterns are traditionally carried by guisers on All Hallows' Eve in order to frighten evil spirits. There is a popular Irish Christian folktale associated with the jack-o'-lantern, which in folklore is said to represent a "soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell":
On route home after a night's drinking, Jack encounters the Devil and tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest. In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century
Imagery of the skull, a reference to Golgotha in the Christian tradition, serves as "a reminder of death and the transitory quality of human life" and is consequently found in memento mori and vanitas compositions; skulls have therefore been commonplace in Halloween, which touches on this theme
There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween. Some of these games originated as divination rituals or ways of foretelling one's future, especially regarding death, marriage and children. During the Middle Ages, these rituals were done by a "rare few" in rural communities as they were considered to be "deadly serious" practices. In recent centuries, these divination games have been "a common feature of the household festivities" in Ireland and Britain. They often involve apples and hazelnuts. In Celtic mythology, apples were strongly associated with the Otherworld and immortality, while hazelnuts were associated with divine wisdom. Some also suggest that they derive from Roman practices in celebration of Pomona.
One common game is apple bobbing or dunking (which may be called "dooking" in Scotland) in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water and the participants must use only their teeth to remove an apple from the basin. A variant of dunking involves kneeling on a chair, holding a fork between the teeth and trying to drive the fork into an apple. Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings; these must be eaten without using hands while they remain attached to the string, an activity that inevitably leads to a sticky face. Another once-popular game involves hanging a small wooden rod from the ceiling at head height, with a lit candle on one end and an apple hanging from the other. The rod is spun round and everyone takes turns to try to catch the apple with their teeth.
Because in the Northern Hemisphere Halloween comes in the wake of the yearly apple harvest, candy apples (known as toffee apples outside North America), caramel apples or taffy apples are common Halloween treats made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, sometimes followed by rolling them in nuts.
IS HALLOWEEN A BAD THING?
parts of Britain, these customs came under attack during the Reformation as some Protestants berated purgatory as a "popish" doctrine incompatible with their notion of predestination. Thus, for some Nonconformist Protestants, the theology of All Hallows' Eve was redefined; without the doctrine of purgatory, "the returning souls cannot be journeying from Purgatory on their way to Heaven, as Catholics frequently believe and assert. Instead, the so-called ghosts are thought to be in actuality evil spirits. As such they are threatening.
Puritans of New England maintained strong opposition to the holiday, along with other traditional celebrations of the established Church, including Christmas. Almanacs of the late 18th and early 19th century give no indication that Halloween was widely celebrated in North America. It was not until mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century that Halloween became a major holiday in North America. Confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-19th century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds. "In Cajun areas, a nocturnal Mass was said in cemeteries on Halloween night. Candles that had been blessed were placed on graves, and families sometimes spent the entire night at the graveside".