All Hallow’s Eve – Day of the Dead
They are both pagan festivals to honor the ancestors, give thanks for the harvest, involve children, and bring the community together.
All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, has its roots in an older, pagan tradition, called Nos Calan Gaeaf , Welsh for Samhain, a Gaelic word meaning ‘Summer’s End’. This is the most well-known Halloween tradition in Wales. The Welsh translation, interestingly, is ‘The First of Winter’. http://www.spiritvisions.com/
Samhain was the last of eight festivals. It was the time to honor ancestors and welcome the new year. During Samhain, people would “sacrifice“ cattle for a community celebration of Samhain. They built bonfires, and Jack o Lanterns, made out of turnips. To protect themselves from fairies, and Sidhs they wore animal masks, and left them offerings of food and drink outside their homes.And they
would have included some kind of sport competition or horse racing.
The tradition of “dumb supper” began during this time, in which there was an empty chair at the table, while children would play games to entertain the dead, adults would update the dead on the past year’s news. That night, doors and windows might be left open for the dead to come in and eat cakes that had been left for them.
The people of Meso-America also had festivals celebrating the harvest, and honoring their ancestors. Like the Celts, they believed the beginning of winter allowed the spirits to visit this world. But it was not a scary time, it was a time to celebrate with the community and teach children about their ancestors. They made Home Altars decorated with “Cempohualxochitl” flowers [marigold], which aroma guided spirits to their homes, and Cacaloxóchitl flowers [alhelí], Copalli incense [aromatic resin], one Xīcalli, [hollowed gourd] of water, and one of salt, Fruit, a special kind of Tamalli [masa wrapped in corn husks], and dishes of cooked meals with Nopales, Calabaza [Squash] and Tortillas that their ancestors liked to eat. There were no bonfires, just stories, prayers, and blessings for what they had.
When the Romans conquered the Celts in 43 AD, they brought their celebration of manes or spirits of the dead called Feralia on February 21 for Dis Manibus, “for the spirits of the dead.”
It was until the XIV Century that the Catholic church established November 2nd. as All Hallows day due to the mortality from the recent epidemics in Europe. During the Kingdoms of Leon, Aragon and Castile, they made sweet bread and candies that resemble bones from Saints that looked from fingers, to skulls to parts of the body. In Italy these sweets were called “Ossa dei Morti.”
Recipe: consider whipping up some ossa dei morti. All you need is 1 2/3 c flour, 1/2 c sugar, 1/4 lb ground almonds, 2 tbsp butter, an egg, and some lemon zest. Mix it all together, adding water or a bit of marsala, amaretto, other sweet wine as needed, and form into finger bones. Brush with an egg wash and cook at 375 °F until golden. Although the recipe is simple, it’s a bit harder to make them look like bones; even this osteologist had trouble! Archaeologist, Writer, Scientist [Photo:Ossa dei morti, made by yours truly, using the recipe in the post. (Image credit: K. Killgrove)
My conclusion is that the Roman Catholic Church, which had an extensive network, created the propaganda attached to this day to the word “Pagan” as evil, outlawed. When in reality it means foreign people, people with different religious beliefs, non-christian.
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