Happy Halloween!

halloween_rhospiritualguideHalloween is fast approaching! This is one of my favourite celebrations.

Halloween is celebrated in many countries. In Christianity it is also called All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve. It is observed as a liturgical celebration to remember the dead saints or martyrs (Nov 1) and the departed (Nov 2). Some Christians would abstain from meat and even would light candles and visit the graves of their departed loved ones.

Samhain, which is a Gaelic festival, is also celebrated at this time. It is the end of Harvest and the start of winter coming. It was a time for preparation for food. The cold winter meant the freezing of meat which would keep until Spring.

A lot of the Halloween traditions we celebrate now, such as bobbing for apples, roasting nuts and baking cakes with hidden prizes in them, came from the Samhain festival. These were used for good health or for divination to find out who would marry whom, etc.

Dressing up and wearing costumes comes from Samhain as well. It was also called Mumming. People would dress up like the departed and visit homes and sing and recite poetry for food. Trick or treating as we now say. This was done as it was believed to protect oneself from the departed and also bring good fortune

I will leave you all with the story of the Jack-O-Lantern, it goes like this:

Jack was on his way home after a night of drinking and nastiness when he encountered the Devil. Jack was sharp even though he was drunk and he tricks the devil into climbing a tree. He then etches a cross into the bark and by doing this he traps the Devil.

Jack strikes a bargain that he will let the Devil go and in return hell can never claim his soul.

After a life of carrying on as per usual and adding a bit of bullying and anger, Jack dies. Jack is refused entry into heaven because of what he had done and who he was.

The Devil, as promised, refuses to let Jack into hell. Now Jack is trapped alone in the darkness. Taking pity, the Devil throws him a live coal straight from the fires of hell to help him. Jack hollows out a turnip and places the coal in it to light his way. Since that time it is believed Jack and his lantern have been roaming eternity looking for a place to rest.

When settlers arrived to the new world they found pumpkins were easier to carve than turnips, so they started using these as lanterns instead. It is thought that if you carve a jack-o-lantern, you keep Old Jack away.

Happy Halloween my friends!