Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chocolate and Dead People

We take a break from our regularly scheduled feminist snark to bring you: Wicca snark!
The lovely SublimeFemme was asking about my Halloween plans and while they do include pumpkin carving and trick or treating with my little sibs-in-law (henceforth known as Thing Red and Thing Dino), they also include my Samhain-night ritual.

For those who're pagan-challenged, Samhain (usually pronounced SOW-in or SAH-vin, but please, not Sam-hayne) means "end of summer", and is the end of the pagan year. It's also known as All Hallow's Eve. It occurs on either October 31st or November 1st. It's a night for celebrating the final harvest, acknowledging the dark half of the year, and if communicating with spirits is your thing, it's a night for that too. It can be rowdy as hell or a solemn ritual, or both.
I don't know if you know this, but a lot of Halloween traditions come from this festival. It was a night for frightening away evil spirits with faces carved into turnips, for lighting bonfires to warm the dead or scare them away, for slaughtering the last of the livestock for winter storage and gathering the last crops (any left after this day were considered the property of the dead, and left in the fields).

Why am I explaining all this? Because it struck me that they don't teach the history of Halloween in most schools, and most people get their information from candy companies and scary movies. Oh, and Disney. And I hate the reducing of an important part of history and culture to an opportunity for yet more cheap commercialism. This is also something very personal and important to me, and it's my blog, dammit.

So now you know. We have treats, jack-lanterns, costumes, bonfires, and tricks because some dead Celtic guys didn't want to deal with a bunch of pissed off ghosts on this one night of the year. Well, sort of.
More on Wicca, Halloween, and stuff later, here at "things that piss me off dot com"!