Tag Archives: Scotland

All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and The Celtic Festival of Samhain


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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All Saints

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All Saints’ Day, to honour the saints, falls on November 1, and the All Souls’ Day, the day to pray for the recently departed kith and kin, falls on November 2.

The word “Halloween” was first used by the Scottish around 1556 AD, as a variant of “All Hallows’ Even,” to mean the night before All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day.

The Celtic Festival of Samhain

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:16-17)

Even though the word Halloween has its origin from Christianity, according to some scholars it owes its origin to the pagan harvest festivals such as the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or to Parentalia, the festival of the dead or to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Old Irish word for “summer’s end”.

The Gaelic festival of Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset of October 31 to sunset of November 1, halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

In some Gaelic languages, Samhain is the word for November.

All Saints Day, introduced in the year 609 AD, was originally celebrated on May 13. In 1835, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV, it was changed to November 1, the same date as Samhain. Some suggest the change was due to Celtic influence in Christianity while others suggest it as a Germanic idea.

Some early Irish literature mention that many important events in their mythology happened on Samhain. The festival of Samhain observed in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Asturias and Galicia. Samhain, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh make up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. The Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) also held kindred festivals at the same time of the year such as Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).

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Samhain Ritual
Samhain Ritual

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During Samhain, the Gaelic took stock, readied for the cold winter ahead, brought the cattle back down from the summer pastures, slaughtered livestock, lit bonfires, enacted rituals along with divination games. As a cleansing ritual, they would walk with their livestock between two bonfires, cast the bones of slaughtered livestock into its flames.

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All Souls' Day night vigil
All Souls’ Day night vigil

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The Gaelic believed, that during Samhain, the door to the Otherworlds or realms of supernatural beings and the dead, opened just enough for the souls of the dead and other weird entities, to enter our world. They beckoned souls of the dead kin to attend the feast by setting a place at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. Lewis Spence in his book “The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain” described it as a “feast of the dead” and “festival of the fairies.”

Divination also took place during Samhain. The tradition says that in places like Asturias, “Güestia,” a group of spirits from the world of the dead, go out that night, walking in the forests and on roads. People drew circles on the floor and remained within those circles until the spirits passed them.

 

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The Traditions of Halloween


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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On October 31, the Eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows’ (or All Saints’) Day, most people in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and a few in Asia and Africa celebrate “All Hallows’ Evening.” This celebration is also known as Halloween or Hallowe’en or Hallowmas.

All Saints’ Day, to honour the saints, falls on November 1, and the All Souls’ Day, the day to pray for the recently departed kith and kin, falls on November 2.

The word “Halloween” was first used by the Scottish around 1556 AD, as a variant of “All Hallows’ Even,” to mean the night before All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day.

The Tradition of Guising

The Gaels or Goidels speak one of the Gaelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and later spread to neighbouring regions. Celtic languages are most commonly spoken on the north-western edge of Europe, notably in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Cape Breton Island.

The Gaelic festival of Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset of October 31 to sunset of November 1.

The ancient Gaelic believed that during Samhain, the door to the nether worlds and realms of supernatural beings and the dead, opened just enough for the souls of the dead and other weird entities, to enter our world; so, they protected themselves from harmful spirits and fairies active in Samhain by taking various steps to allay or ward-off the harmful entities. One such act was the custom of Guising that influenced today’s Halloween costumes.

Were wolves and a skeleton
Were wolves and a skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Little Red Devil (Photo: Subas Raj)
My grandson Rohan, the Little Red Devil in 2011 (Photo: V.A. Subas Raj)
My grandson Rohan dressed as Peter Pan in 2012 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
My grandson Rohan ‘guising‘ as Peter Pan in 2012 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
My grandson Rohan, the Little Pirate in 2013 (Photo: Ligia Fernando)
My grandson Rohan, the Little Pirate in 2013 (Photo: Ligia Fernando)

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In Scotland and Ireland, during Halloween, children go from a house to house, dressed up in various costumes. They receive gifts in the form of food, coins or apples or nuts and recently chocolates.

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A Witch, Maid, Imps, and a Skeleton
A Witch, a Maid, Astronauts, and a Skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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The earliest record of Guising at Halloween comes from Scotland. In 1895, masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made by scooping out turnips, visited homes and were rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. It predates trick or treat.

The Tradition of Trick-or-Treating

In Scotland and Ireland, the people in the households expect the children who come to their houses to perform before they receive treats. The children sing or recite a joke or a funny poem which they had memorized before setting out. Some talented children may do card tricks, play the mouth organ, or do something impressive. Often the children get a treat, even if they did not perform.

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IMG_4338
Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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While going from door-to-door in disguise, it has now become common for the children to pose the question: “Trick or treat?” The “trick” in this question happens to be an idle threat to perpetrate mischief on the homeowners or their property if they do not get the treat.

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Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, in the article “‘Trick or Treat’ Is Demand,” Herald (Lethbridge, Alberta), November 4, 1927, p. 5, dateline Blackie, Alberta, Nov. 3.

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at the back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The Tradition of Souling

Soul cakes
Soul cakes

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The tradition of going from door to door to receive food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”. The soulers, mainly consisting of children and the poor, would go from door to door on Halloween singing and saying prayers for the dead in return for small round soul cakes, simply called souls, traditionally made for All Saints Day or All Souls’ Day to celebrate the dead. Each cake eaten represented a soul freed from Purgatory. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes perhaps might be the origin of modern trick-or-treating.

The Tradition of Making Jack-o’-lanterns

The tradition of making lanterns during Halloween may have sprung from Samhain and Celtic beliefs. In the 19th century in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands people made turnip lanterns sometimes with faces carved into them during Samhain. The lanterns may serve three ways: to light one’s way while outside on Samhain night, to represent the spirits and otherworldly beings and entities, to protect oneself and one’s home from them.

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Traditional Irish Jack-o’-Lantern Modern carving of a Cornish Jack-o’-Lantern made from a turnip. Jack-o’-lantern lit from within by a candle.

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Jack-o’-lanterns derived their names from the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o’-lantern.

A modern jack-o’-lantern is typically a carved pumpkin. After cutting the top of the pumpkin, the flesh inside is scooped out. An image, usually a monstrous face, is carved out, and the lid replaced.

And as a passing thought I give you this Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor. Thanks to Ms. Sheila Ribeiro, a mutual friend who posted this on Facebook.

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A Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor (Source: http://www.freshomedecor.com)
Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor (Source: http://www.freshomedecor.com)

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A Poem Published Under Several Names: “Look Closer”, “Kate”, “Crabbit Old Woman” …


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Recently, I came across the following post on Facebook:

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POEM.

The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

In the above post, the story that introduces the poem is fictional. In fact, the origin of the poem is not known for sure. The claim that the poem was found among the belongings of an elderly male resident of a geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town has not been proved nor was it found among the possessions of any other old man who died in a hospital in Florida, or in any other equally fictional hospital in the United States.

An American poet, David L. Griffith of Fort Worth, Texas, adapted the original poem known under various names, changed the gender of the protagonist from an old woman to an old man and called it: “Too Soon Old.” The currently circulating version of the poem called the “Cranky Old Man” is a variant of the Griffith’s poem. It is also known as a “Crabby Old Man.”

Too Soon Old by David L. Griffith

What do you see, my friends, what do you see… what are you thinking when you’re looking at me?

A crabby old man, one not very wise, uncertain of habit, with far away eyes.
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply… when you say in a loud voice, “I wish you’d try?”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do, and forever is losing a sock or shoe.
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will… with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.

Is that what you’re thinking?
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes my friends, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still, as I live at your bidding, as I enjoy company at your will.

I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother, brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young boy of sixteen, a football in his hands and with wings on his feet, dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet.
A marine soon at eighteen — my heart gives a leap, remembering the oath that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have a platoon of my own, ‘who need me to guide them and secure a trip home.
A man of thirty, my youth now going too fast, hopefully bound to others with ties that should last.
At fifty my daughter and sons have grown and are gone, and I have no one beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At sixty no more babies play round my knee, again I know heartbreak, my loneliness and me.
Dark days are upon me, my dreams are all dead; I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own, and I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old man and nature is cruel; ’tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart, there is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young man still dwells, and now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain, and I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years; all too few.
Gone too fast, and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, my friends, open and see, not a crabby old man; look closer — see ME!!

~ © 1986-2001-2010 ~ ~ David L. Griffith ~

Crabbit Old Woman
Old Woman (Photo: Elaine Short)

The original poem itself has a long and somewhat perplexing history. It features an old woman as the protagonist rather than an old man and is set in the United Kingdom. Originating from a non-academic source, humbly vernacular in form, it has no obvious value beyond the immediate feelings it provokes on reading.

The poem has been included in various publications under different titles in the United Kingdom often accompanied by the claim that a copy of the original poem was found by the nursing staff among the belongings of an old woman named Kate who died in a hospital’s geriatric ward. Some versions claim that the hospital was located in Scotland. Others claim the hospital was in England or Wales.

A key contributory factor to this poem are the stories of its origins, stories which almost always accompany the poem wherever it appears and which, like the poem’s own words, is virtually unchanged since those early days such as:

The writer of this poem was unable to speak, although was seen to write from time to time. After her death, her locker was emptied, and this poem of her life was found. (Searle, 1973, p. 8).

and more recently:

Get the hankies ready…this one’ll get ya!

Crabbit old woman’s life has ended in a nursing home. While the nurse is
packing her meagre possessions, she finds a poem written to the staff of the
hospital by the apparently senile and mindless old lady. (Rexanne.com, 2005).

Another version of the origin of the poem says that it was found at Ashludie Hospital, Dundee; that copies were duplicated and distributed to all nurses in the hospital; that a young nurse at the hospital sent a copy to ‘Beacon House News’ at the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health’; and, that the author’s name was not known.

From time to time the mystery of the poem’s origins suraces. For example, in 2003, an entry on Seniors Network UK, mentions ‘Mattie’s Poem’, with the story that

Mattie was a very dear family friend. She had been a very bright 90 year-old but her body was badly ravaged by time – she died in the Geriatric Ward of a hospital in Lanarkshire in Scotland.

According to credible reports Phyllis Mabel McCormack might have penned it in early 1960s when she was a nurse at Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose, a coastal resort town and former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. Originally entitled “Look Closer” she wrote it for publication in the Sunnyside Chronicle, a magazine produced by the staff of Sunnyside Royal Hospital, Montrose, for circulation within the hospital. She submitted it anonymously as she felt it was critical of some of her colleagues.

In 2005, Joanna Bornat in her work “Empathy and stereotype: the work of a popular poem“, a report for ‘Perspectives on Dementia Care‘, 5th Annual Conference on Mental Health and Older, notes:

Amongst the responses to a small survey which I carried out in 1998 while researching attitudes to the poem was a cutting from the Daily Mail newspaper in which the son of Phyllis McCormack, whose name is often linked with the poem as its discoverer, explained:

My mother, Phyllis McCormack, wrote this poem in the early Sixties when she was a nurse at Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose.

Originally entitled Look Closer Nurse, the poem was written for a small magazine for Sunnyside only Phyllis was very shy and submitted her work anonymously.

A copy of the magazine was lent to a patient at Ashludie Hospital, Dundee, who copied it in her own handwriting and kept it in her bedside locker. When she died, the copy was found and submitted to the Sunday Post newspaper, attributed to the Ashludie patient.

Since my mother’s death in 1994 her work has travelled all over the world… – (Daily Mail, 12 March 1998).

Somehow this explanation rings true, though it immediately begs the question of how the origin story was constructed in the first place and whether the poem depends on an apparent myth for its continuing appeal. Encounters have been mixed as responses to the 1998 survey suggested.

These intriguingly mysterious origins greatly add to the poem’s effect. The story of a mute, unidentified and neglected woman creates pathos. It is a parable for ageing times with lessons about listening to our elders and empathy towards older people.

The poem is written in the voice of an old woman in a nursing home who is reflecting upon her life. Here is the original poem in full:

I have reproduced theoriginal poem below entitled “Crabbit Old Woman.” In Scottish, Crabbit means “bad-tempered” or “grumpy”. It has also been known variously as: “Kate”, “Look Closer”, “Look Closer Nurse”, “Open Your Eyes” or “What Do You See?”

Crabbit Old Woman

What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you are looking at me
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice ‘I do wish you’d try’
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And for ever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who unresisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill
Is that what you are thinking, is that what you see,
Then open your eyes, nurses, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I used at your bidding, as I eat at your will,
I am a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another,
A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet;
A bride at 20, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep
At 25, now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure, happy home;
A women of 30, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last,
At 40, my young sons have grown and are gone;
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn;
At 50, once more babies play around my knee.
Again we know children, my loved one and me
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread,
For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel
’tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where once was a heart
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few – gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, nurses, open and see
Not a crabbit old women, look closer — see me.

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The Tradition of “All Hallows’ Even,” or Halloween Day


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Trick or Treating
Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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Every year, people in western countries celebrate “All Hallows’ Evening,” contracted to Halloween or Hallowe’en, on October 31st, the Eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints) Day. The word Halloween first used in the 16th century around 1556 represents a Scottish variant of the fuller “All Hallows’ Even,” meaning the night before All Hallows’ Day or All Saints Day that falls on November 1 and All Souls’ Day on November 2, the time for honoring the saints and praying for the recently departed.

According to many scholars, western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain originally influenced the celebration of Halloween.

The Celtic Festival of Samhain

The medieval Gaelic celebrated Samhain, the most important of the four quarter days marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the darker half of the year on October 31 or November 1 or halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

All Saints Day, introduced in the year 609 A.D. and originally celebrated on May 13, switched in 835 A.D. to November 1, the same date as Samhain, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV, as some suggest due to Celtic influence while others suggest it as a Germanic idea.

Even though the word Halloween has its origin from Christianity, some scholars think it owes its origin to the pagan Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or to Parentalia, the festival of the dead or to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Old Irish word for “summer’s end”.

Some early Irish literatures mention that many important events in their mythology happened on Samhain. The festival of Samhain observed in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Asturias, and Galicia. Along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh make up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. The Gaelic (Irish, Scottish, and Manx) also held kindred festivals at the same time of the year such as Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).

During Samhain, the Gaelic took stock, prepared for the cold winter ahead, brought the cattle back down from the summer pastures, slaughtered livestock, lit bonfires, enacted rituals along with divination games. As a cleansing ritual, they would walk with their livestock between two bonfires, cast the bones of slaughtered livestock into its flames.

The Gaelic believed, that during Samhain, the door to the Otherworlds or realms of supernatural beings and the dead, opened just enough for the souls of the dead and other weird entities, to enter our world. They beckoned souls of the dead kin to attend the feast by setting a place at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. Lewis Spence in his book “The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain” described it as a “feast of the dead” and “festival of the fairies.”

Divination also took place during Samhain. The tradition says that in places like Asturias, “Güestia”, a group of spirits from the world of the dead, go out that night, walking in the forests and on roads. People drew circles on the floor and remained within those circles until the spirits passed them.

The Tradition of Guising

Were wolves and a skeleton
Were wolves and a skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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The Gaelic protected themselves from harmful spirits and fairies thought to be active in Samhain by taking various steps to allay or ward-off the harmful spirits and fairies, and one of them is the custom of Guising, that influenced today’s Halloween customs.

In Scotland and Ireland, during Halloween children go from a house to house, dressed up in various costumes. They receive gifts in the form of food, coins or apples or nuts and recently chocolates.

A Witch, Maid, Imps, and a Skeleton
A Witch, a Maid, Imps, and a Skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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The earliest record of Guising at Halloween comes from Scotland. In 1895, masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made by scooping out turnips visited homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruits, and money. It predates trick or treat,

Trick-or-Treating

Trick or Treating
Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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In Scotland and Ireland, the people in the households expect the children who come to their houses to perform before they receive treats. The children sing or recite a joke or a funny poem which they had memorized before setting out. Some talented children may do card tricks, play the mouth organ, or do something impressive. Often the children get a treat, even if they did not perform.

While going from door-to-door in disguise, it has now become common for the children to pose the question: “Trick or treat?” The “trick” in this question happens to be an idle threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if they do not get the treat.

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Trick or Treating
Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, in the article “‘Trick or Treat’ Is Demand,” Herald (Lethbridge, Alberta), November 4, 1927, p. 5, dateline Blackie, Alberta, Nov. 3.

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at the back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The Tradition of Souling

The tradition of going from door to door to receive food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”. The soulers, mainly consisting of children and the poor, would go from door to door on Halloween singing and saying prayers for the dead in return for small round soul cakes, simply called souls, traditionally made for All Saints Day or All Souls’ Day to celebrate the dead. Each cake eaten represented a soul freed from Purgatory. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes perhaps might be the origin of modern trick-or-treating.

Soul cakes
Soul cakes

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The Tradition of Making Jack-o’-lanterns

The tradition of making lanterns during Halloween may have sprung from Samhain and Celtic beliefs. In the 19th century in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands people made turnip lanterns sometimes with faces carved into them during Samhain. The lanterns may serve three ways: to light one’s way while outside on Samhain night, to represent the spirits and otherworldly beings and entities, to protect oneself and one’s home from them.

Traditional Irish Jack-o’-Lantern Modern carving of a Cornish Jack-o’-Lantern made from a turnip. Jack-o’-lantern lit from within by a candle.

Jack-o’-lanterns derived their names from the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o’-lantern.

A modern jack-o’-lantern is typically a carved pumpkin. After cutting the top of the pumpkin, the flesh inside is scooped out. An image, usually a monstrous face, is carved out, and the lid replaced.

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2012 Olympics – First Joke


London Olympics 2012

At the gate to the London Olympic Games 2012 , a Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman want to get In, but they haven’t got tickets………………..

The Scotsman picks up a manhole-cover, tucks it under His arm and walks to the gate.

“McTavish, Scotland ,” he says, “Discus,” and in he walks.

The Englishman picks up a length of scaffolding and Slings it over his shoulder.

“Waddington-Smythe, England ,” he says, “Pole vault,” And in he walks.

The Irishman looks around, picks up a roll of barbed Wire and tucks it under his arm.

“O’Malley, Ireland ,” he says, 

“Fencing.”

.

Reproduced from A Daily Thought (July 7, 2012)

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