Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween before it was commercialized

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

Halloween was already an ancient festival of souls 2,000 years ago. It has long been commemorated in countries from Ireland and Poland to Mexico and the Philippines (where trick-or-treating is called Nangangaluluwa, and your chickens are in danger of being purloined).

Halloween customs are relatively new to Australia, but are rapidly establishing themselves. When you come to think of it, every old, cherished custom was once a new-fangled idea, even in the BCE.

The ancient Druids of Britain and Ireland, whose mysteries held sway for centuries before the Romans came to those islands, celebrated a spooky night on October 31. These pagans – Druids, and the Celts in general, of whom they were the priestly class – called it Samhain. In the Northern Hemisphere, the day which falls slap bang between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, is November 1. The eve of Samhain, October 31, was the night the lord of death was said to judge the souls of the departed.

What you could have expected on Samhain eve if you were a suburban Celt or Briton in 300 BCE, was to go to the mall bonfire and watch a neighbour being roasted alive, while you nibbled roast chestnuts with your diet cola. This was an 'end of summer' ceremony, and the druidic priests built a bonfire (bone-fire) to represent the sun which they wished would return, dispelling bitter cold and famine ...

Wilson's Almanac free Halloween e-cards & Samhain e-cards

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