Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Irish Halloween


The picture above was painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833, inspired by a typical Irish Halloween party. (Click on picture for details.) It was called "snap-apple night" and they did not wear costumes. Here is the caption which accompanied the painting:
There Peggy was dancing with Dan/While Maureen the lead was melting,/To prove how their fortunes ran/With the Cards ould Nancy dealt in;/There was Kate, and her sweet-heart Will,/In nuts their true-love burning,/And poor Norah, though smiling still/She'd missed the snap-apple turning.
For the ancient Celts, November 1 was Samhain, their New Year's day. It is not necessary to detail some of the more gruesome pagan customs which accompanied the festivities in pre-Christian times, customs which eventually disappeared as the Faith spread and took hold. Nevertheless, on a more positive note, the Celts believed that on the day in question the veil between the worlds grew thin, and one could easily pass from world to world, from time into eternity.

As Christians, in celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, the sacred liturgy permits us to glimpse the place where the blessed ones dwell in light. We are led to think of all the dead, of the awe-inspiring realties of death, judgment, heaven and hell. On All Souls' Day we recall those who are still undergoing purgation in the realm beyond time. We, too, through the Mass and through prayer, pass from world to world, for all is present to God.

Here is an article (via A Conservative Blog for Peace) which elucidates on the history of All Hallows' Eve, the pagan versus Christian aspects and how the Irish, French, Germans, and English brought it all to North America. To quote:
Halloween can still serve the purpose of reminding us about Hell and how to avoid it. Halloween is also a day to prepare us to remember those who have gone before us in Faith, those already in Heaven and those still suffering in Purgatory. The next time someone claims Halloween is a cruel trick to lure our children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of Halloween and let them know about its Catholic roots and significance. (By Fr Scott Archer)
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4 comments:

Catherine Delors said...

Thank you for this Irish Halloween, Elena!

It seems to me that it has always been the policy of the Church to show respect for, and integrate within its own celebrations, ancient pagan traditions whenever they were not inconsistent with Catholic doctrine.

So there is no need to be puritanical about this holiday. I enjoyed all of my American Halloweens, as I will enjoy my French Toussaint this year.

elena maria vidal said...

You are welcome, Catherine. Agreed! Have a Blessed Toussaint!

gmn1660 said...

happy Halloween! :-D

~Gette

elena maria vidal said...

Same to you.