30 Oct 2014


May the ancestors deliver blessings on you and yours 
May the new year bear great fruits for you 
May your granted wishes be as many as the seeds in a pomegranate
May the slide into darkness bring you light 
May the memories of what has been keep you strong for what is to be 
May this Samhain cleanse your heart, your soul, your mind 
Blessed Samhain to all, and a magical night.

- A Samhain poem.
Shared on FaceBook by a friend, the author is unknown.

After Christmas the second most commercially successful in America. Yes, you, my friends across the pond, are to blame for Halloween ..... or are you?

I suppose the clue is in the words commercially successful. According to one site it is expected that some $7.4 billion will be spent this year, $350 million alone on Halloween costumes for pets. With those of us in The UK (where incidentally Halloween is now the 3rd highest spending festival after Christmas and Easter) spending what is estimated to be a measly £315 million.

Not always this way though. According to several sites, this one included, there is little history of masks or indeed costumes before 1900 (no, not even Spiderman or indeed Frozen's Elsa which are proving amongst this years favourite costumes). The earliest known reference of 'begging' on Halloween in English speaking North America seemingly not being until 1915 though it wasn't until 1934 that it became common practice, the earliest known use of the term 'trick or treat' not appearing in print in a national publication until 1939. 

Trick or Treat of course having its origins with the Celts who, believing the souls of the dead (not all of them friendly spirits) roamed the streets at night, left out gifts both to pacify the evil as well as ensuring plentiful crops the next year.

It was the ninth century that saw the custom of Souling (a practice encouraged by the church as a way of replacing the ancient pagan tradition) in which Christians walked from village to village begging for 'Soul Cakes'. The idea being the more cakes you received, the more prayers you would say on behalf of the dead relatives of the people you received the cakes from.

1 stick softened butter
4 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

Cream together the butter and sugar. Using a sieve add the flour and mix until smooth.
Dividing the dough into two parts, shape each half into a flat circle approximately half an inch thick, place them on an ungreased baking tray. 
Poking lines with the tines of a folk, mark eight separate wedges in each cake.
Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown at 350 degrees. 

So, not entirely to blame for Halloween, I think it fair to say Samhain - depending on your tradition starting at sunset tonight (strictly speaking Samhain's Eve) and continuing on until sunset tomorrow (November 1st) or, if you should wish to celebrate the ancient Celtic way, for three consecutive days - is safe with today's pagans for whom it is an opportunity to honour the God & Goddess, the harvest and those who came before, both human and animal. 

OR .....
To those in the southern hemisphere, a blessed Beltaine. 

- Starring Mr T as the mad scientist and yours truly as the bride.
 Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!


Kelly said...

I don't think I contributed a singe penny to this year's commercialism as I can't recall anything I've bought for Halloween. No, not even candy, since little ghosts and goblins never venture back where I live.

Kelly said...

...but that's not to say I haven't spent more than my share in past years.

Crystal Collier said...

We all used to make our own costumes, right? I guess that's a sign of how society is changing. AND since they pretty much banned home made treats (thank you crazies everywhere), it seems bagged candy has quadrupled in price. Regardless, it's still one of my very favorite holidays.

Unleashing the Dreamworld

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks for the history. I love that sort of stuff.

As I love to extend celebrations the three day thing sounds good to me!

Suko said...

The video is great, Tracy! You are quite the dancer.

Thanks for an informative and fun Halloween post!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Happy Halloween!!! I do really love this holiday.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Happy Samhain! Loved the jibjab card. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Wow you really know how to bust a move in that dance video. Very cute. Enjoyed your blog!

DMS said...

I have to admit that I love Halloween. All the decor makes fall even more festive. Plus- I love dressing up! This year I didn't buy any candy because I don't get any trick or treaters where I live. I did put up my decor- but I didn't spend any money on Halloween this year.

I loved learning more about the background of this holiday. Lots of interesting information.

Literary Feline said...

Halloween is only big in my house right now because I have a little one who enjoys the day's activities. :-)

I think we saw 4 girls in Elsa costumes this year and about the same number of spidermans (including my daughter's bestfriend who had a spidy costume with a skirt). I think my favorite costume I saw Friday night was a girl dressed as a hot air balloon. It was creative and unusual.