Wednesday, October 31, 2007

November 1: Samhain, Eve of All Hallows

It's odd, at times, looking back on the Roman-Christianization of Pagan celebrations.

First, there was Samhain (via Wikipedia):

Samhain is the word for November in the Gaelic languages.

The Festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is generally regarded as 'The Celtic New Year'.

The same word was used for a month in the ancient Celtic calendar, in particular the first three nights of this month, with the festival marking the end of the summer season and the end of the harvest. A modernized version of this festival continues today in some of the traditions of the Catholic All Souls' Day, the secular Halloween, and in folk practices of Samhain itself in the Celtic Nations and the Irish and Scottish diasporas.

And then, of course--as was done for many Pagan celebrations-- it became morphed into a Christian event, All Saints Day (also via Wikipedia):

All Saints' Day, All Hallows, Hallowmas ("hallows" meaning "saints," and "mas" meaning "Mass"), is a feast celebrated on November 1 or on the first Sunday after Pentecost in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. Halloween is the day preceding it, and is so named because it is "The Eve of All Hallows".

All Saints is also a Christian formula invoking all the faithful saints and martyrs, known or unknown. In terms of Catholic theology, the feast remembers all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven, while the next day, All Souls' Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.

Whichever one you celebrate, welcome dark months. :-)

- ferg


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