Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Halloween

Halloween: A True Book by Dana Meachen Rau, Children's Press, NY, 2001.
This book mostly goes over some of the same stuff, but I think I understand more about the name "Jack" as related to Halloween.  This book is good at pointing out the progression.  The Celts, who lived a 2500 -2000 years ago and inhabited much of Europe, had October 31 as the last day of the year.  They believed it was the day spirits could come back o life==both bad and good spirits.  They would trick the spirits by dousing their fire at home.  The would big a large communal bonfire.  They would wear masks to trick thee spirits into thinking they were also spirits.  In the morning, everyone would take some embers to restart the fire in their home.
The Romans entered the mix when they conquered the Celts.  They had a holiday at about the same time of year which honored the goddess of fruit.  They would eat nuts and fruits.  The game of apple bobbing comes from the Romans.
The Catholic Church also had an influence.  They tried to do away with the holiday, and where unsuccessful.  They combined it with all Saints day followed by All Souls day.  Latin culture honors their dead with day of the dea, where they take cakes to their deceased relations. 
Finally the Irish give us the Jack o' lantern.  Jack was a cunning man, but also not a good man.  WHen the Devil came for him, he tricked the devil.  When he eventually died, he couldn't go to heave.  He wasn't a good man.  The devil would not have him either.  So he was left to wander.  They devil did give him a charcoal for his lantern, which he made from a hallow turnip.  Today we hallow pumpkin which work better than turnips. 

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