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Saturday, October 31, 2015

About Halloween

"A man who doesn't know death doesn't know life." 
Lionel Barrymore as Otto Kringelein
Grand Hotel
...To be honest, the character was quite drunk in this scene...
then he loses his pocketbook and falls apart...
Kringelein brings "cringe" to mind...
then John Barrymore returns the pocketbook that he - the phony Baron - stole from Kringelein in the first place.....
and Garbo plays Grusinskaya, a rather hefty ballerina....



It used to be called Samhain by the ancient Celts, a word we used to pronounce SahVAIN when I was a kid, but the references on the Internet say SahWEEN or SahWINE or some such. Most people just ignore it altogether.

The custom of carving pumpkins goes back to Celts carving beetroots - betteraves - and sometimes illuminating them.
In Lorraine, beetroots were also carved on Toussaint in a celebration called Nuit des Betteraves Grimaçantes (Night of the Grimacing Beetroots).

 (note:   Toussaint is the Feast of All Hallows, November 1. The quote probably should say that the beetroots were "carved on the eve of Toussaint".)

The Irish brought the custom over to North America, judiciously choosing the much easier to carve pumpkin instead of the more solid beetroot.

 Beetroot Carvings

The carved face certainly resemble heads or skulls. Certainly, the Headless Horseman of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow appeared to have a carved pumpkin jack o'lantern for a head or skull:

There is not much difference between the carved heads and the fabricated skulls of sugar provided for children on El Dia de Muertos:

The connection seems even closer when we consider that the beetroots, betteraves, were sugar beet roots.

There seems to have been a conflation between Halloween in the autumn and the Walpurgisnacht or Heksennacht of the springtime. This was sort of a witches' night and all that implies. So I suppose that is what Pat Robertson is talking about when he says that Halloween is Satanism.

It's funny, but this morning when I started to read about Halloween, I remembered a dream I had about a Vodou flag of Baron Samedi wrapped and laid within a drawer. He looked like Idris Elba in a black tuxedo and wearing a top hat. This was appliqueed on a background of azure, all set within green.
He was smoking a cigar.


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