Posts Tagged ‘Celebration’

Ghosts of the ancient Roman’s are quite often referred to as Shades, and were honoured by festivals throughout the year; a little like our Halloween or Day of the Dead in modern culture.

Umbrella (Umbrae) was the ghosts species, and there were several types listed in the texts.

Manes – benevolent, they harassed the souls of the dead in the Underworld. These may (according to Pliny) have been the souls of those who died prematurely, violently or both.

The days for propitiating the dead were done with beans. One celebration for the shades was said to come from Remina, a festival brought about by Romulus to appease the shade of his murdered brother Remus.

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This is also known as All Saints’ Eve and Samhain, the celebration is observed around the world on October 31st. It is on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows but some scholars believe that this is part of the older festivals of the dead such as the Celtic Samhain, some say it developed independently.

Samhain itself is mentioned in Irish mythology as it marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or ‘darker half’ of the year. The stock-taking and preparing for the winter ahead, cattle were brought in from the pasture and the livestock slaughtered. In the Gaelic world they would light bonfires and enjoy the rituals involving them, the rituals hint that they might once indicated human sacrifice.

It was considered to be the door to the “otherworld” and opened enough for the souls of the dead to come into the home world. The souls of the dead were said to revisit their old homes, and feasts were held with places of honour for the dead. It is also thought that the idea of wearing a costume came from the idea of of disguising themselves amongst the spirits and fairies. It might also be an extension to the Ireland custom from the 19th Century whewre a man dressed as a white man would lead youths door to door to collect food; by giving them the food the household could expect the good fortune from the Muck Olla.

There are lots of customs and rituals, historical citations about Halloween but this festival also migrated over to North America where it has become a national celebration with some very large parties and the tradition of trick or treat.

There are games and movies galore that incorporate or centralise on the Halloween theme, for instance Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas which was brought into the games series of Kingdom Hearts and saw the hero of the games fighting various troubles there. Halloween the film was an original blockbuster horror that has seen a revival and remake thanks to Rob Zombie. There are so many that I could mention but I could spend an age on it when really right now it’s time to go and stuff myself sick with candy, look at zombie nurses and drink a couple of Bloody Mary’s!

Enjoy your festive season all.