" Season of mists,and mellow fruitfulness".
October, the 8th month of the year, when there were only ten months in the year!
But, in old times, the year was not divided into "months", only "periods"or "times". There were "preparing times". (Digging or ploughing); "planting times", and "harvest times".
The "time" we now refer to as October, was the "last harvest". Gathering the last of the fruits and nuts, choosing which animals to slaughter to supply meat through the Winter.
When all was done, there was a "rest" period of celebration. In the darkness of the coming Winter, fires would be lit, and people would gather at the fires, telling stories of past harvests, good or bad Winters, and stories of Ghosts,and Demons. This was also a time of remembering the people who had "gone to earth"; the long dead and the recent dead.
These people of the area we now call "Europe" were Celts of different "Tribes".
Then, along came the Romans, and the rise of Christianity. The harvest period that had been known as "Sow-en" (End of growing season) became Samhain in old English spelling.
With the rise of Christianity, the "rest" periods of the year became Christian Festivals.
And so the end of the 8th month (period) became the Christian "All Hallows Eve"; the first two days of the 9th month.
In the Christian "calendar" each of the principal Saints was given his/her own special day. The Saints who did not have a "special" day, were celebrated on All Saint's Day. THe next day was "All Soul's Day". When prayers were offered for "the souls of the departed".
There would still be "stories" told around the fires. Of Ghosts, and Demons, and Miracles. Of Life and Death, of sickness and health.
Then, in the 19th Century, two books were published that were to change people's attitudes about Ghosts, etc. to "feelings" of "Horror!". Until then, stories were "thrilling", but not really "frightening".
The first book in 1816 was "Frankenstein" by Mary W Shelley. 80 years later came "Dracula" by Bram Stoker.
And so grew the idea of Gothic "horror", by the two most misunderstood books in literature!
And so there arose, in the USA, of "dressing up" in "frightening" costumes and playing practical jokes on people. There had always been practical jokes at this time of year, but it soon became the idea of children, who would play a practical joke, or a trick. Unless they were given a "treat". And so, Trick or Treat, came on every October 31. All Hallows Evening, had long before been contracted to Halloween.
Trick or Treat is now almost as popular in Britain as in the USA. But here in Britain,some of us still celebrate Sow-en "Samhain"
So, happy Halloween to all our members.
I, however, will celebrate Samhain with a fire, and a beer, and meditate on my long gone ancestors; and my parents, my elder brother, and elder sister.
Wonderful post Bryising. It's very informative and needed since a lot of new members misunderstand this particular sabbat.
In fact in Greece where I am most of the orthodox christians consider it a "sin" which is funny if you think that they also have a celebration almost exactly like Samhain.
Anyway. At this time of the year I usually celbrate with a glass of wine, candles and then I visit a coven that meets in the sabbats close to acropolis It's very beautiful time of the year. To me it's the most important sabbat. I honnor the friends I ve recently lost and my grandparents.
Thank you for this post and happy Samhain to everyone.
Thank you so much for this post Brysing, I find it most knowledgeable and informative which is what I need in my current learning experience. This is something that I will remember and refer back to if needed.
This post is wonderful.
About ten years ago, I was reading about the history of Halloween. This book (I don't remember the name, it was ten years ago!) mentioned how the ancient Pagans would celebrate their bountiful harvest with a great Feast. They would dress up as the dead and dance around large bonfires out of remembrance. I also have read many other books about how they would also dress up as the dead to ward off the more "evil" spirits from sticking around. I'm not quite sure how accurate this is, hence this is about the ancient Pagans, and I'm sure location and culture are a huge factor here.
Samhain is also considered the "Witch's New year." And in my opinion works in sync with the ends of harvesting as Brysing stated.