Knights of the Pain Table

A Camelot for Sufferers of Chronic Pain

Halloween a History Doth Commence Long Long Ago Part II

History of Halloween Part II

The Samhain was a time to prepare stores of meat and grains to last through the winter. Some animals were slaughtered.   The bones of the cattle were tossed upon the flames of the Bonfire.   The  “bonefire”  (from the ‘Gaeli tine cnamh’) was the sole fire.   Then each family lit its hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together.

On November Eve,  the  Druids also believed they could glimpse the future and divination.    They believed it brought a break in the structure of society for that night.    Hence,  boys and girls would exchange clothes and pretend to be the returning dead from the Other world.   They often would play tricks on the elders.

Another tradition of Samhain was bobbing for apples.    This originated from the Celtic Emhain Abhlack “ Paradise of Apples”.    This is where the dead enjoyed a blissful immortality having eaten of the sacred fruit.

In the 1st century the Roman’s conquered Britain,  so Samhain was fused with their own October harvest festival dedicated to Pomena,  the Goddess of fruits and trees.    The apple was a Celtic symbol of fertility.

In Ireland they would bake a barmbrack, which was a light fruitcake.      They would place a ring or coin and other charms in the cake before baking.    The person who found the ring was told they would find their true love in the ensuing year.    This custom still exists.

The Roman Catholic Church objected to such pagan revelry during Samhain,   but the Church understood that to win converts,   it was wiser to Christianize traditional practices, rather than forbidding them.

In 835,   Pope Gregory IV re-christened Samhain as “All Saint’s Day”,  ( or All Hallows’ Day).   Hallow meant sanctified or holy.     October 31st was now called  ‘All Hallows’ Evening,   which eventually became “Halloween”.

In 998,   the Church established yet another holy day on November 2,  “All Souls’ Day”.    On this day the living prayed for the souls of the dead in purgatory.    On this day the poor went from house to house asking for “soul cakes”.    Over time children took up the practice of going to house from house for soul cakes,  and the day became more like a carnival.

Although  All Saints’ Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were once celebrated on the same day.

North America was introduced to Halloween through Irish and Scottish immigrants.    Many of those immigrants were fleeing from the Great Potato Famine of the 1840’s.     These new immigrants found the pumpkin was a great vessel for being a container for an ember from Hell.     By 1874,    Halloween masks, sweets and nuts were in the stores in Canada.

The Celtic Year was divided into a lighter half and a dark half.    Samhain celebrated the end of the lighter half of the year.    It also was the beginning of the darker half.   Hence,   the first day of November was regarded as the “Celtic New Year”.

So as we begin the dark half of the Celtic New Year, may you stay safe by the light of those who came before us. May each Knight have a full moon on the darkest of nights.


End  of Part II

Read Part I

Lady Sharon
And the Ghosts of Camelot

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