Knights of the Pain Table

A Camelot for Sufferers of Chronic Pain

Halloween a History Doth Commence Long Long Ago Part I

 

History of Halloween Part I

The Ancient Celts were the tribal people who inhabited most of western and central Europe,   3000 years ago.   The Celts migrated west,   eventually arriving in Ireland. This is where many of our Halloween traditions originate.

At the end of summer,   after the harvest had been gathered and winter approached, the Celts celebrated the most important religious festival of the year, called   “Samhain”   (meaning ‘summer’s end’). Samhain and an t-Samhain are also the Irish and Scottish Gaelic names of November, respectively

Samhain was also called the Féile Moingfhinne ie   ” Festival of Mongfind”.    According to Cormac’s Glossary,    Mongfind was a goddess that the pagan Irish worshipped on Samhain.

October 31st represented the final harvest. The night of Samhain in Irish was “Oiche Shamhna” and Scots Gaelic, “Oidhche Shamhna”. Halloween began here and continued to be celebrated through medieval times.

On the eve of Samhain,   the spirit world mingled with the human world.

On this night the dead could return to the places where they lived.    Often a meal will be prepared of favourite foods of the family’s and community’s beloved dead, a place set for them at the table, and traditional songs poetry and dances performed to entertain them.     A door or window may be opened to the west and the beloved dead specifically invited to attend. Many would leave a candle or other light burning in a western window to guide the dead home.

On the night of Samhain, the villages left their doors unlocked to welcome swarms of spirits into their homes. To keep out the unfriendly spririts, the Celts carved the images of spirit guardians onto turnips.   These jack o’lanterns were set before their doors. The people would wear masks and costumes, so they would not be recognized by the spirits.

Jack O’Lantern

According to Irish legend, Stingy Jack was a greedy gambling drunkard. He devised a plan to trick the devil. At a pub, he offered the Devil his soul in exchange for a drink. Once the devil had turned himself into a coin, Jack trapped him beside a silver cross. He bargained with the Devil for 10 years more on Earth, for his release.

Ten years passed and Jack met the Devil again. The Devil at the request of Jack, went to fetch an apple from a tree. Jack then carved a cross in the tree trunk, thus trapping the Devil again. J ack then released him again.

When Jack died, he was turned away from Heaven. At the gates of Hell, the Devil turned him away into the night. Jack pleaded for some light, so the Devil snatched some coal and placed it in a hallowed out turnip. Since then, Jack of the Lantern has been doomed to wander the earth.

End of Part I

Tomorrow we shall continue our walk through history.  Read Part II

 

Lady Sharon
With a Jack O’lantern to guide us tonight.


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