Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Origin of Halloween (Part 2)

So, yesterday, I forgot to mention there were other festivals around that point in time and place in the British Isles. To name a few Calan Gaeaf, Allantide, and Hop-tu-Naa, which were all very similar to Samhain, but distinctly different. All in distinct worship to the dead.

Anyway, around the time that Samhain was popular in Celtic Ireland, the Roman festival Pomona was also very popular. Pomona was a time of drunken and mystical reverie. Pomona was also a time to thank the goddess of harvest, Pomona herself. Pomona is indeed the Roman goddess of plenty and fertility, and her name derives from the latin POMUM (fruit). This festival took place around November 1st. To thank the goddess Pomona for her harvest, they would put out apples to be as a gift offering back to the god. Many games involving apples came from this event, including the ever-popular apple-bobbing.

Around 50 B.C.E., the Roman army expanded it's reign over the Celtics, and brought it's culture into Ireland. Likewise, the Romans were also very accepting of others cultures, so the Celtic traditions began to merge with the Roman, especially those involving Samhain and Pomona. The Romans also brought with them the apple tree. The Celts believed that the pentagram symbol was a sign of fertility, and when they cut the apple in half, the seeds plot out the points of a pentagram. Young, unmarried men and women would bob into a tub of water and tried to grab an apple with their teeth, and others would try and grab it dangling from a string (both very tough), and the one who would bite into it first would be the next to marry. Another form of divination, that's carried down the line.

Another Roman festival that has it's roots in Halloween is Lemuria, in which pumpkins were decorated. It was another celebration in worship of the dead, where they would do things to appease them and cast the evil spirits away from their homes, mostly with offerings of beans. This practice took place on May 13, far from Halloween, but I'll explain how it came into it tomorrow. Since it was such an evil day, the whole month of May was considered unlucky to be married in, just as the Latin term Mense Maio Malae Nubent says ("they wed ill who wed in May"). A popular custom to expel these spirits was to walk barefoot at night and throw beans over ones shoulder. The head of the household was said to have done so and chanted "Haec Ego Mitto; His Redimo Meque Meosque fabis" nine times, meaning "I send these; with these beans I redeem me and mine". Then the rest of the household would nine times say "Ghosts of my fathers and ancestors, be gone!" while banging pots.

1 comment:

  1. I am learning so damn much. This is so cool, man. Keep it up--you're culturing us ancient history newbies. I can't wait to see where you take it.