Wednesday, 31 October 2007

All Hallow’s Eve

The day sparks a promise, the night glistens blackly – happy Halloween, everyone!

Halloween or rather, Samhain, is my favourite time of year. I have always been interested in the Celtic calendar, and Samhain celebrates the end of the harvest season, and the entering of the ‘dark half’ – that time of year when you close the doors and tell stories around a blazing hearth (or turn up the thermostat and watch Top Gear – not quite the same, eh?). Traditionally, as well as marking the change of season, it was a festival for the dead, so you’d set an extra place at the table for Great Aunt Maude, and only hope she doesn’t take you up on it. I prefer to light a candle myself...

Flames, or bonfires, are very important at Samhain. Traditionally again, there would be a central fire lit in the middle of the village, and all the villagers would extinguish their hearth fire and re-light it using a brand from the central fire, thus uniting the village against the coming winter. Fortune telling at this time of year was very popular, with everything and anything considered a symbol of the coming months.

The Christians got their hands on this festival and transformed it to All Hallows’ Day on November 1st, and then All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. Oct 31st became known as All Hallow’s Eve, finally morphing into the all-out commercialism of Halloween as we know it today. The moment Clinton Cards get their hands on a festival you know it is doomed, doomed I tell you!

In celebration of my favourite time of year, I am going to spend from now until Bonfire Night regaling you with spooky tales and facts. But for now, I leave you with this little gem from youtube, from The Nightmare Before Christmas…

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