Hallow's Eve

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Hallow's Eve (sometimes called "Halloween") is a holiday celebrated in many provinces of the NAL, and is in essence a fusion of several different celebrations in different cultures:

  • Kemrese Yspiridnoeth (a ghostnight) Gifts of food are given to the poor on behalf of the dead as part of Noeth Calen Yfern, a time of transition between Summer and Winter/Life and Afterlife, when the living and the dead encounter each other.
  • Mejican/Tejan/Californian Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), in which life is celebrated by remembering one's dead ancestors.
  • English Mischief Night, in which children do tricks on adults which range from the minor to more serious such as taking doors off their hinges.
  • Scottish/Irish Oidhche/Oí­che Shamhna.

History

As the influence of Christianity spread into Celtic lands, in the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs, to replace the old pagan festival of the dead. It was observed on May 13. In 834, Gregory III moved All Saint's Day from May 13 to Nov. 1 and for Christians, this became an opportunity for remembering before God all the saints who had died and all the dead in the Christian community. Oct. 31 thus became All Hallows' Eve ('hallow' means 'saint'). Hallow's Eve and All Saints Day, however, have always been two distintively different traditions. All Saints Day is celebrated as a day of prayer to God. It has been instituted by the Church to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year.

Circa 1900 the holiday called "Hallow's Eve" became more-or-less codified within many FK-related provinces of the NAL, although it has been adopted by others to various degrees.

Practice

In essence, Hallow's Eve celebrates the night and darkness, as the start of Winter as well as the night when the dead walk the Earth. The tradition is for people--children and adults--to come in costume to some kind of party or celebration. When feasible, these parties should take place near or even inside a graveyard. A visit to a graveyard is likewise common. Pot luck is common, but not universal, although a gift of food is considered right and proper--not for any celebrants but for the dead. Many churches and temples organize such events in such a way as to distribute the food "not claimed by the dead" for the poor.

In some cities, children dressed up as monsters or ghosts or some such visit stores in late afternoon before dusk to "go guising" (i.e. ask for treats). In rural areas like northern Ontario, it is commonplace for a tithe of such treats to go to the poor. Rural areas are also known to have bonfires associated with the night. One legend from the 1920s claimed that children born or conceived on Hallow's Eve will have second sight.

Fireworks displays are not uncommon.

Hallow's Eve Parades (sometimes called Mummers' Parades) are popular, usually starting or ending (or both starting and ending) at a major cemetary. These range from relatively simple walks with costumes to late-night carnivales of considerable ribaldry and nearly everything in between. Large cities such as New Amsterdam or Atlanta might easily have parades the run the full range. Some private parties are much, much wilder. Night clubs, especially so-called "Mile High Clubs" (i.e. old airships converted to nightclub use), are renowned or notorious for exotic adult entertainment at such affairs.

Arguably, the single greatest Hallow's Eve icon is the carved jack-o-lantern with a candle or other light-source inside. Contests for carved faces are commonplace where the holiday exists. Dunking games are also popular.

Controversy

There are those who object to the holiday, sometimes very loudly, usually on religious grounds. Fundamentalists of Christian and Neo-pagan groups decry celebrating Hallow's Eve either because of "satanic" influences or because it cheapens solemn ceremonies and rituals. Others complain about its Catholic roots.

There are communities outside the NAL that have on occasion celebrated Hallow's Eve, sometimes regularly. In those cases some locals view it as a form of cultural imperialism. Mostly, however, it is viewed as a source of fun.

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