Wednesday, October 31, 2007

[all hallow's eve] don't be caught out of doors

Well, as you know, it's All Hallow's Eve and the details are dealt with below.

What I'd like to recount here instead is the evening I had to drive to a village near Derby from the North of England.

It truly was dark and foreboding and the rain was lashing the snot-green Mini's windows as I tried to negotiate the map to get me past Alfreton, New Order were blasting out of the door speakers and I was late.

Why does it always take so long to get anywhere in Britain? On a long stretch of moorish road it struck me that it was Hallowe'en and that it may not ahve been the cleverest idea to travel alone on such a night with all the witches and warlocks out in force.

Then the car died. Just turned off - everything - lights, engine - it all stopped. Slowing to a halt on the side of the road, it struck me that this was most certainly not a good move.

Some minutes later it struck me that it might be a good move to thumb some help down but not a lot of traffic was about at just before 11 p.m. on an open stretch of road.

A lorry did stop and took me into, can't remember, Alfreton I think it was and I remember a pizza shop which is unusual because I probably needed to organize the AA at that point.

They came out surprisingly quickly but here was the thing - they couldn't get it to start. Not in the least. So it was tow-truck time and it was closing in on midnight. Just after midnight the driver thought he'd try one more time and it started.

Everything started - the lights, the music and so on. He definitely scratched his head when he packed up and left.

Anyway, here are those details for those who like quick reference:

All Saints’ Day: November 1st

"Hallows" is the Old English for "holy man"; hence a saint. The French call it Toussaint.

It’s traditionally traced to Pope Boniface IV who, between 603 and 610, changed the heathen Pantheon into the Christian church and dedicated it to the honour of the martyrs but some trace it to the time of Pope Gregory III (731-741). Originally held on May 1st, in the year 834 it was changed to November 1st.

What exciting things to do on the day? Pray for the Saints and be one. That’s it.

All Souls’ Day: November 2nd

All Souls' Day is so called because Catholics on that day seek, by prayer and almsgiving, to alleviate the sufferings of souls in purgatory. It was instituted in the monastery of Cluny in 993.

According to tradition, there was a pilgrim, returning from the Holy Land, who was compelled by a storm to land on a rocky island, where he found a hermit, who told him that among the cliffs was an opening into the infernal regions through which huge flames ascended, and where the groans of the tormented were distinctly audible.

The pilgrim told Odilo, abbot of Cluny, of this, and the abbot appointed the day following, which was the 2nd, to be set apart for the benefit of those souls in purgatory.

What to do on this day? Pray for the souls of all the departed, from your grandparents through to the children of Beslan, say. In this respect, it would mean more than All Hallows to most people and it’s the one I take the most seriously of the three.

All Hallows Eve: October 31st

In the old Celtic calendar, this was the last day of the year, its night being the time when all the witches and warlocks were abroad and held their wicked revels. This was a day NOT to be out.

On the introduction of Christianity, it was taken over as the Eve of All Hallows, or All Saints, and - especially in Scotland and the north of England - it is still devoted to all sorts of games in which the old superstitions can be traced.

Sometimes known as "Hallowmas," many old folklore customs are connected with All-Hallows' Eve, such as bobbing for apples, cracking nuts, finding by various tests whether one's lover is true and so on.

In shortened form, it’s called Hallowe’en [always with the apostrophe]. Burns' Hallowe'en gives a good picture of Scottish customs and there is a tradition in Scotland that those born on All-Hallows' Eve have the gift of double sight, and the ability to command spirits.

Source: Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ooh, creepy! Don't scare me tonight, James!

jmb said...

All my little factoids for the day, thanks for that.
I didn't know about the apostrophe, sorry about that.

Ellee said...

Is it celebrated where you presently live?

Count James d'Estaing said...

Hallowe'en is, Ellee but the others aren't much known about, which is typical.

Welsh, JMB - thanks.