The Daily Joe, August 2
Yay! It's Friday! I hope you have fun weekend plans!
Other than Friday and August 2nd, do you know what today is? This is pretty random, so I'm quite sure you won't guess. But it is Random Friday, so it's appropriate.
Today marks 90 days until Halloween. Yes, I'm one of those. I love Fall and I love Halloween. I'm not all about the pumpkin spice, but I love apple anything. And I think Halloween is awesome!
So being as it's Random Friday, let's dive on down the rabbit hole.
Halloween comes from Hallowe'en, which is a contraction of Hallows' Even or Hallows' Evening. It's also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, and All Saints' Eve. It is celebrated on October 31st, as I'm sure you know, which is the eve of All Hallows' Day (AKA All Saints Day) and was originally part of a three-day celebration called Allhollowtide. The AllHollowtide triduum (Tri-Jew-dum) encompasses All Hollows' Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls' Day. That's on the Christian side of things. (BTW, this isn't the only triduum in the Christian calendar. There's also the Easter triduum, which is the three days before Easter)
Many of the Halloween traditions we're familiar with are believed to hail from ancient Celtic festivals, particularly Samhain (pronounced SOW-en, but also annoyingly pronounced SAM-hayn). Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It's actually halfway between the Autumnal equinox (September 23) and the Winter solstice (December 22).
Because the veil between life and death was considered to be very thin on this night, the ancient people believed spirits of pagan gods and of fairies (or nature spirits) could easily pass between this world and what they called "the otherworld." On this night, offerings of food and drink were left outside. Dressing in costume was part of this festival, and people would go from door-to-door reciting certain phrases in exchange for food. Does this sound at all familiar?
This dressing in costume was known as mumming or guising. It can be traced back to 1296 and the festivities surrounding the marriage of Edward I's daughter at Christmas. The word Mummer is from Early New High German and means a disguised person.
Anyway, back to Samhain. I mentioned it is from ancient Celtic. To be more specific, we're talking Gaelic Ireland, and Samhain can be found in some of the earliest Old Irish literature. It was one of four seasonal festivals. But Irish mythology, as with many of the old traditions of the ancient world, was spoken, i.e. orally recited until it was finally written down.
And here's where it comes around. When it was written down in the middle ages, the transcription was done by Christian monks. And these monks then in turn, of course, Christianized it.
There's so much I could go on and on about, but the rabbit hole is only so deep today. So as we think about the fun and frolic of our Halloween, something the ancient Celts would scarcely recognize, let's be thankful for what has been left in the past: Animal and human sacrifice.
But many things have come forward in different forms. I mentioned guising/mumming and the ancient variation of trick-or-treating. But in part, bonfires in the fall come from the past rituals, as does bobbing for apples, which used to be part of Samhain's divination rituals. Apples were thought to be connected with the otherworld and immortality. There was also a tradition of illumination in which turnips were hallowed out to become lanterns and were carved into grotesque faces. Some said these were to ward off evil spirits. These, of course, became the precursors to today's Jack o' Lanterns.
Why turnips? Probably because they were the available gourd. Gourds were the earliest farmed plant, dating back to circa 10,000 years ago. The Maori were carving them as lanterns over 700 years ago. The Maori are from New Zealand, almost 12,000 miles away from Ireland and the Celts there. And since they never encountered Europeans until the 18th century, I'm pretty sure they had no idea about Jack o' Lanterns. They were just making lanterns. (side note...you never now where the rabbit hole is going to lead. I didn't foresee any of this)
So somewhere along the line, someone decided carving a pumpkin instead of a turnip would be a great idea. This was first recorded in 1834. And I'm glad the switch was made. I can't imagine carving a turnip. And can you imagine Jack Pumpkin from The Nightmare Before Christmas as Jack Turnip?
No, me neither.
And that, my friends, ends my Random Friday. If you're still with me:
Today, August 2, 2019
Mostly, I'm catching up on everything I didn't do yesterday. Yesterday was...frustration. Sometimes that happens, but this is two in one week and I'm over it.
Today, I'm finishing Chapter 5 of The Billionaire's Beautiful Runaway and three chapters of The Problem With Billionaires.
Have a happy day!