Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

The night of Halloween has its beginning with the Gaelic festival of Oíche Shamhna (Eve of Samhain) and is one of the oldest folk festivals in the world.  The first of November, Samhain, is halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.  For thousands of years and into the twenty-first Century the festival has been celebrated and enjoyed in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and in the many places the sons and daughters of these lands have settled in around the world.

Samhain, Halloween, also has a serious side. On the eve of Samhain the barriers between  'Otherworld' and our world grow weak and the spirits and ghosts of passed ones could walk among us in our world.   To counter act and protect against the ill effects of this opening between the worlds the custom guising came into practice.  Guising is to dress up in costume, preferably one very scary, in order to frighten any ghost or spirit that might do one harm.  This custom lives on in our Halloween costumes and our 'trick or treating' rituals. 

The great Robbie Burns wrote a engaging poem of Halloween, Ulster Heritage Magazine posts the first verse of the poem:

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.
The best of Halloween, Samhain, to everone....

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