Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

These next three days have always been amongst my favorite in the church calender:
October 31 - All Hallow's Eve
November 1 - All Saints' Day
November 2 - All Soul's Day

Its a triumvirate that has all the bases covered - Hell, Heaven and what ever is in between. The tradition of All Hallows as a celebration of goblins and ghosties and long legged beasties is an old one going back to the Celts. My Irish ancestors celebrated Samhain around this time of year. As with many pagan festivals it was appropriated by the Christian church in the 8th century and then by global marketing in the 20th.

In the Christian church it was originally a night of fasting and preparation for the Feast of All Saints (All Hallows - All Holy Ones - ergo All Hallows' Eve = Halloween) but the old traditions also said it was the night when spirits and demons roamed the earth freely. The only way to avoid them was to disguise yourself as one of them or to frighten them with something as terrible as themselves. Thus pumpkins (turnips and rutabagas in England?????) were carved with horrible frightening faces.
I don't think this pumpkin that I carved for yesterday's Halloween Breakfast was going to frighten anyone. Not quite the message you want to send to demons and ghosts!

My friend and colleague Chris and I worked up this witch who had more scare value than that pumpkin. Its a wonder what you can do with a few garbage bags, some coloured file folders and someone with Chris's creativity. She's a bit of a genius!

And though Halloween is not celebrated much here in Italy - though it is making inroads with blanket marketing at the moment - Laurent thought we'd keep up the tradition of having a pumpkin to ward off evil tonight, just in case some goblins or ghosts were hanging around our place. It seems to have work - haven't seen one all night!

31 ottobre - La Vigilia d'Ognissanti
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Anonymous said...

You are good at drawing and carving, Willym!
Nice pumpkin!
I also LOVE the photo of Athens on the top of your site. Bravo!


great pumpkin...
the irish didn't start carving pumpkins till they got to america because they didn't have them in the old country...
i love nov 2..the day of the dead is celebrated by all the hispanics from mexico..they have a great parade every year in austin..keeping' it weird.

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Elizabeth said...

We all need all the help we can get warding off the evil eye or the bad spirits! And I utterly love your office witch! Fantastic!

I adore Halloween - all the little kids running riot. It's always been my favorite holiday.

christine said...

We really dreamed up a great witch, huh? No genius...just loads of fun together...LOVED the pumpkin! Baci, Chris