Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Pagan Holiday

My Daughter’s favorite Pagan Holiday is Halloween (better known to the Pagans as Samhain). My favorite is May Day, which was called Beltane by the Pagans.

Back about 20 centuries or so ago Samhain was the equivalent to modern day New Years Eve. On the old Celtic calendar, November 1st was the beginning of the New Year.

That is until Augustus Caesar (Gaius Octavius Thurinus) decided to add two more months to the calendar to honor himself and uncle. Traditional calendars consisted 10 months (except for those people, such as the Abyssinians, who use a more efficient lunar calendar consisting of 13 months).

November 1st was the official beginning of winter for the Pagans. So as good Pagans, they celebrated the coming of the winter on New Years Eve (and probably a few days before and after) by slaughtering livestock and imbibing mass quantities of mead and potcheen. The children would go door to door and offer a winter prayer. In return they would receive a piece of food or maybe a small piece of treacle.

Then along come a 7th Century Roman Pope who decides that all of his newly converted Celtic Christians should not be celebrating a Pagan holiday. So he declares that November 1st to be All Saints Day and that the day before be named Hallow Eve. The people still got to celebrate their Pagan holiday (as they had done for generations)

Enough of the history lesson, I have digressed from what I originally intended to write.

My daughter has been working on her front yard Halloween display for several weeks. Actually she started in September, but it wasn’t an everyday, time consuming, thing that it has now become. Three years ago it was just a bunch of store bought props. Then she began to make Styrofoam head stones.

Last year, with the aid of her Uncle John (I’ve always said that he was good for something – but could never really put my finger on exactly what), she converted a sizable portion of the front lawn into a graveyard. The small children that came to Trick or Treat were afraid. The teens and adults loved it.

She had people driving for miles to see the display. Word of mouth is the best advertisement.

So this year she really, again with the help of Uncle John, is outdoing herself. They have made 4 or 5 new props, more headstones and put a fence around the cemetery. She has purchased a ton of candy in anticipation of a large crowd of visitors.

She will be in her glory tonight when she hears the accolades from the Halloween night visitors. Uncle John will also be in his glory, but mainly from the mead and potcheen that he will be consuming. Me, I’ll be eating a lot of candy during the next week.

The photos (click on them to enlarge) below were taken this afternoon. When it is dark the display looks much better with the eerie lighting and fog machines.

The Beach Bum



Blogger alfredo_tomato said...

She did a great job. You know the kids got a kick out of it.

I wonder how John's turned out this year?

Sat Nov 01, 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

It was my understanding that the Roman calendar had 12 months and that Julius renamed Quintilis for himself and, not to be outdone, his great nephew (and adopted son according to Julius' will) renamed Sextilis for himself.

But I was young at the time of all this and may not remember clearly....

Mon Nov 03, 02:40:00 PM  
Anonymous uncle mikie said...

As to the last comment, you should do a little research before you open your pie trap!

Thu Nov 06, 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's a pie trap?

Fri Nov 07, 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous GeckoRoamin said...

Well, Uncle Mikie, I took your advice and did a little research.

The first Roman calendar did indeed have 10 months, but it was King Numa Pompilius who added 2 months in 713BC bringing the total days to 355. Julius Caesar adopted the Julian calendar in 46BC adding 10 days to the year and renaming one of the months in his own honor. Augustus would do the same. Our current calendar, known as the Gregorian calendar, was adopted in 1582 and added the leap year rule.

The Curmudgeon is correct.

Fri Nov 07, 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Beach Bum said...

My God, I hate to admit when I am wrong.

I was relying on a feeble memory (rather than looking it up)of an Early World History class that I took more than 40 years ago. Memories get distorted with time.

The 10 month Roman Calender was changed to twelve months 700 years before Julius Caesar.

My apologies!

The Beach Bum

Fri Nov 07, 10:49:00 PM  
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