On The Eve Of Samhain
Today’s Brew: Apple Cider. And remarkably, it’s not spiked.
Since Halloween is everyone’s favorite holiday (although mine is actually Superbowl Sunday), I thought I’d post some quick fun facts about The Big Day
- Halloween is a Christian holiday! Take that, you pagan propagandist finger pointers. It is All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints’ Day.
- I went to catholic elementary school and we used to have November 1st off every year, and of course I thought it was to recover from the chocolate drunkenness of the prior evening.
- Until 835, All Saints Day was celebrated on May 13th. Someone then had the foresight to change it to November 1.
- The origins of the holiday can also be traced back to the Roman Goddess Pomona, the goddess of fruit and seeds. Bobbing for apples derives from the Roman festivals of this holiday.
- Samhain was a Celtic festival celebrating summer’s end and the end of the harvest season.
- Samhain was also a bad ass band formed by Glenn Danzig after he left the misfits. Glenn Danzig is 58 years old! WTF. That’s just not right.
- November signaled the beginning of the darker half of the year.
- The Darker Half is also a bad ass collaborative writing blog. I believe I’m scheduled for a guest post there on Tuesday.
- The tradition of dressing up and trick or treating goes back to 16th century Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. (WTF, England? Why didn’t you join in on the fun?) “Mumming and guising” involved dressing up, going door to door and singing songs in exchange for food. I think we need to make kids today sing for their supper. Kinda like American Idol meets The Gong Show.
- In Scotland, people would wear masks, going door to door threatening mischief if they weren’t welcomed.
- Costumes have another Christian origin. See? Even Jesus like Halloween. “Souling” means dressing up or disguising yourself
- In 19th century Wales, young people would dress as the opposite sex.
- In the dark ages, no fun was allowed. Christians would have “soul cakes” to remember souls in purgatory. Churches would display relics or martyred saints. Poor parishes would have their parishioners dress up as martyrs instead.
- Shakespeare mentions souling in Two Gentlemen of Verona.
- Britain used to bless homes and barns to protect people and livestock against witches on Halloween.
- Oh, I get it now. You Brits are more into Guy Fawkes Day than Halloween. Guy Fawkes Day is November 5 and I’ll be celebrating by RELEASING A BOOK THAT DAY.
- The Scots, always looking for a party, brought Halloween traditions to North America. The holiday gained popularity in the mid 19th century.
- Jack O Lanterns are supposed to frighten evil spirits away.
- Ireland and Scotland carve turnips instead of pumpkins.
- We can thank classic gothic horror stories such as Dracula and Frankenstein for our current Halloween imagery.
- Haunted houses may have originated by the Jaycees for fundraising.
- Judaism forbids participating in Halloween or any other gentile customs.
- Devil’s Night was a huge problem in Detroit from the 1970s to 1990s as well as other cities in the US. City youths would vandalize and set fire to things at random. Way to suck, guys.
- Looking for some Halloween stories? Check out Chynna-Blue Scott’s The Zombie Project, Pen and Muses The Dark Carnival, and check this very blog every Friday for some great short fiction by guest authors!
- And tomorrow, the evil geniuses of Twitter join to bring you something new and exciting. Stay tuned!