All Hallows Eve

Oh Gawd, it’s Halloween again. A.k.a All souls / all Hallows, Hallowmas / day of the dead (For Mexican Christians). The net effect of which here in the not so frozen north is children and teens begging for candy at the door and more work for your local dental surgeon five years down the line. Not to mention the additional risk of Diabetes in later life. This doorstep begging for candy element is the American gentrification of the ancient Celtic fire festival of Samhain. Which literally means ‘Summers end’ or ‘end of the warm season’. Which is a kind of prehistoric harvest festival. Not the bizarre cultish melange of marketing spinoffs it has become. At least in suburban Canada and North America.

Halloween was more of a fun thing when I was in my teens, bonfire jumping, bobbing for apples, drinking too much and letting the local girls laugh at us. The Harvest Festival formed the churchy side of things which some people went to, but mostly under duress from their more religiously minded parents. Yes, we disturbed the peace sometimes, but most of our antics went unnoticed because apart from the odd self inflicted minor burn or bruise we caused no harm. It was just an excuse for the local lads to party. No zombies, skulls, monsters, or pumpkins. In that era only posh kids did pumpkins, we made do with turnips or just a candle stub, if that. No goth makeup, just us. I think the consensus was that all the dressing up was for kids, and those adults who got invited to the better sort of party. Or those adults who got invited to what were then called ‘wife swapping’ parties, where clothing rapidly became optional. Which reminds me of lots of old and very politically incorrect jokes. We weren’t allowed skulls though. No idea why. You only got a skull if your dad was a doctor and didn’t mind bits of his anatomical skeleton going missing once a year. Our local vicar could get a bit shirty about graveyard shenanigans too, but he was very old school and tended to set his Dogs (He bred English Mastiffs) on such late night invasions of consecrated ground.

As for the North American version of the festival of All Souls, I find it rather dull, saccharine and not a little nerdy, like a dressing up party for six year olds. Lots of pretending to enjoy yourself and sugar fuelled hyperactivity, but not much else. Like having the show without the substance. Wot, no human sacrifices? Well that’s no fun.

Anyway, Summer here in BC has fled, the Maples are a glorious riot of colour (at least until the next windstorm), our propane tank is now full and we’ve set the heater on full blast to dry the house out and ensure we don’t get any issues with black mould like we had when we moved in. Black mould being the minor downside of living in a temperate rainforest zone. It’s a problem in poorly heated and ventilated properties where damp has been allowed to seep in, either by condensation or osmosis. Or the heating kept too low with too many sources of moisture (like people) indoors. It’s also a potential health hazard. Nasty stuff. I nuke it with a heavy duty mould killer if ever a trace is detected in our household.

Honestly folks, it’s worse than the local zombies. But spraying them is rather frowned upon in polite society. No matter how tempting it might seem to sanitise the afflicted who arrive on your doorstep demanding sweets. No idea why, but when you get out the anti-undead spray (Kills 99% of all known Witches, Zombies, Ghouls and Phantoms), people, especially their parents, get so easily upset.

 

Update: I’ve just remembered another quaint little rural custom that happens in quiet unregarded backwaters of the UK.  The ‘Wild’ or ‘Woden’s’ hunt or chase which is basically a lot of drunken hoorays out for the weekend running around with lit torches in the dark, shouting and screaming.  Rarely witnessed, it normally happened (happens) on the grounds of large private estates, away from prying eyes.  I’m told clothing is optional and sex is usually involved.  Never heard of it happening on a rainy night though.

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3 thoughts on “All Hallows Eve”

  1. Guising. Pronounced guy-sing.
    Scottish Halloween custom. Young children would disguise themselves using adults clothes, face paint or simple masks and would go round, in small groups, neighbours’ houses. From my own memory, they would knock at door. When door opened, nothing was said by children and neighbour would pretend not to recognise them, but invite them in and ask them what they could do.
    Each child in turn, would sing, tell a joke, do a simple “magic” trick.
    Just before they left they were offered their choice of mixed fruit, nuts, sweets as a reward.
    Then on to the next house.
    A simple pleasure that pleased both children and hosts.
    Bonfire night was November 5th.

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  2. All Hallows = All Saints; 1 November. It’s the day reserved to give thanks for all the Saints who don’t have specific festivals of their own. Hence, Halloween is 31 October, the day before All Saints.
    There is a separate All Souls day on 2 November

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    1. Hence All Hallows Eve. Which like Christmas, and Easter has pre-Christian roots and a pedigree going back way before any of the Abrahamic faiths reached my neck of the woods. They’re all pre Roman, possibly even pre Celtic.

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