31st October 2020
Or Hallowe’en, or All Hallows Eve, All Hallows Evening in full. Traditionally 31st October (today) when people celebrate, if that is the right word.
Celebrate what though? Wikipedia says ‘It begins the observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.’ From
It also says ‘One theory holds that many Halloween traditions may have been influenced by ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, which may have had pagan roots’
Well I don’t think much of the world’s population is too bothered about saints, martyrs and faithful departed. They seem more concerned with horror stories and films, trick-or-treat and toffee apples, and such like. At least in what is called the Western world.
I have never seen the attraction of horror films myself. Being scared witless does boost the adrenaline of course. But I can get that from dancing to a song I love, or teetering on the edge of a cliff, or a scramble up a rock chimney on a mountain.
And when I had sex with my wife of course.
Trick-or treat? I have wanted to be prepared at the door when the children come round. You know, when they ask trick-or-treat, say trick and pull the cord that brings something gungy on their heads. Well, they expect the treat from you, so the trick must come from you too, right?
Alternatively, you can say, ‘Treat please – come on come on – I haven’t got all night, I have some blood sucking to do, and the bodies are getting cold.’ That sort of thing. You could dress the part too as Count Dracula.
Not that all that is particularly kind, mind you, although children do seem to like scary monsters. Until they become real and do them harm.
But I think toffee apples are always welcome, albeit I struggled with eating them as a child. Part of the challenge I suppose, children like challenges. Like eating the chocolate off a Mars Bar first before dealing with the centre (I still like that myself, but don’t tell everybody).
But what about Hallowe’en? Let’s look at the etymology. Well, Hallo is obvious, isn’t it? Hallo, anybody there? And ‘we’en’?. I tried this in Google Translate which was fascinating.
In detect language, we’en comes in as Dutch. If you translate this in Scots Gaelic, part of the Celtic language, this comes out as ‘A ’caoidh’. Swap these round and the Dutch is now ‘Treurend’. But in English ‘A ’caoidh’ translates as ‘Lamenting’. Try translating ‘Treurend’ and you get ‘Grieving’. Same difference.
So now you have ‘Hallo lamenting’ or Hallo grieving’. What are we lamenting or grieving, the loss of the departed faithful? Some of us perhaps.
But in reality, for most of us, it is the departure of the sun in the northern hemisphere, as each day it sinks a little lower in the sky and the nights continue to draw in, and we lose the warmth and light it brings. Perhaps it is the thought of bitter winters and piercing north-easterly winds.
In the past it would mean hard ground you couldn’t work, shortages of food, breaking the ice to get water. Of course if you were prepared, your home could be cosy, with plenty of wood for the fire and food stored like the squirrel with its nuts.
Unlike the squirrel as well though, hopefully, as it tends to bury some all over the place and forget where it put them!
At least that’s what we think. But perhaps the Most High has given them instructions to plant them, so we can have a small seedling to dig up and put somewhere more suitable later on.
Anyway, it may have been a pagan ritual, but most people mourn the passing of the warm summer months. But not all, and anyway there is Christmas to come in a few weeks, then New year. And before long we are back to the spring for the cycle to begin again, with the sun returning.
And when I could look forward to cycling again!
In the meantime, we might get a hard frost on a perfect still day, or series of days. Hoar frost is quite stunning in the early light. Or perhaps it has rained the night before and huge icicles have formed off the gutters of houses as I once saw in Deddington, Oxfordshire.
Or ice jewels on stems of dried grass on the hills, or wind-blown snow stuck to wire mesh on the top of Skiddaw in Cumbria. The later looked like white waffles; amazing.
So why the lamenting? Even in the past people seem to have enjoyed the ice and snow, at least sometimes. The ice fairs on the frozen Thames are a good example, you can look them up.
In the meantime, Hallowe’en seems like a good excuse for a party. And why not? The Most High likes a good party, as does His Son Jesus. But They do hate spoil sports, and those who would just wish to scare for scaring sake. Which as I have said elsewhere can leave scars.
Jesus bears scars, but He was not scared except when He had to face what He was about to do the night before His crucifixion. He would not have sweated with drops like blood otherwise.
But He overcame His fears and was strengthened by the angels to complete what He came to do. To put an end to Satan’s power, to break the spell, as it were, of fear, and guilt that arose out of the beastly act of Satan in the Garden of Eden.
He rose again, and now shines like the sun. He said to His disciples He would have to go away, but that He would come back again.
His scars will remain for ever on His body, reminders of His great love for mankind. And of forgiveness available to those who come to Him needing it, and ready to change, hard as that will be.
Talking of scars, I have a scar on my left side just above my waist where I fell off my bicycle when I was a teenager. It reminds me now of Christ’s scar, so I have another reminder if I needed it.
The records do not say which side it was on Jesus, but it will have been on the left, His left. Sadly, the left is problematic, and is no doubt the reason my facial palsy is on my left side.
Tonight there will be parties, and, I hope, people will forget for a night the traumas of Covid and U.S. elections. But there is a choice for the States, a vital choice of who to choose, Joe Biden or Donald Trump. The party of the left, or the party of the right.
That reminds me of ‘won’t get fooled again’ by The Who (not the W.H.O., although they may be fooling us). You know, ‘And a parting on the left, is now a parting on the right’.
Except it should be ‘And a party on the left, is now a party on the right’!
I know that I go for what is right, and I know that more and more American citizens are seeing that. And that the left has been fooling the folks, the people.
But what the Most High wants above all is Truth and Love, Justice and Mercy. And forgiveness.
I am not interested in parties of the political kind. I like parties that are fun, best of all when you can dance to one’s favourite music. So perhaps tonight we could dance to the ‘Monster Mash’, very suitable for the Hallowe’en theme, suitably silly.
So chase those monsters away, and don’t be afraid of winter to come. The sun will come up again.
Just like the Son.