Monday, August 25, 2014

Ghosts, Goblins, and Witches, Oh My! How About Ghosts, Dracula And Frankenstein?

Well there's only a couple months until Halloween, or what's formerly known as "All Hallows Eve." And, I can hardly wait.

Now you might be wondering why that is and you may just be asking yourself - "Is she a witch?"   Well, I was born in a state famous for witches and it's quite possible that someone in my family line may have been a witch, but the reason is much simpler - I'm a crafter and crafters LOVE Halloween.

Why is that?

Well, you see Halloween has become a favorite holiday of doll makers and crafters because there are so many different types of dolls and various types of crafts that you can make for this one holiday.

Ghosts, goblins, and witches. Oh my!

Frankenstein, Dracula, and vampires. Oh,my!

Bats, pumpkins, and skulls. Oh my!

Skeletons, monsters, and witches brew. Oh,my!

Candy corn, costumes, and haunted houses. Oh my!

What a wondrous holiday for crafting.

So, of course, in thinking about Halloween I began to wonder how this all started. Well, the answer lies in the true origins of Halloween and the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. November 1st for the Celts marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. So the night before the new year the Celts celebrated the Festival of Samhain, who was the Lord of the Dead. The Celts believed that during this festival the souls of the dead (including ghosts, goblins, and witches, oh my!) returned to mingle with the living.

In the Druidic, religion of the ancient Celts, the Druids would light fires and offer sacrifices of crops, animals and sometimes humans, as they danced around the fires. The season of the sun would pass and the season of darkness would begin, oh my! On the morning of November 1st, the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take it home to start a new cooking fire. The fires were intended to keep the homes warm and free of evil spirits such as banshees, oh my! It was believed that at this time of the year invisible "gates" would open between the real world and the spirit world, oh my! Movement between both worlds was possible, oh my!

In order to scare away the evil spirits the Celts would wear masks and the children would wear costumes. Halloween costumes have traditionally been monsters such as vampires, ghosts, witches, and devils, oh my!


Well, in 19th century Scotland and Ireland the reason the children wore such fearsome costumes was the belief that since the spirits of the dead were intent on doing harm that night, the best way to avoid this was to fool the dead spirits into thinking you were one of them. Monsters, vampires, and skeletons, oh my!

So, we know the reason for the costumes. Why carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns? Scary faces on pumpkins to boot, oh my! Why do we put candles in them and set them on the porch, oh my? This tradition is also derived from ancient celebrations and actually began with a turnip. The Celts would hollow out the turnips and place lighted candles inside to scare off the evil spirits. When the Irish came to America, they discovered that the pumpkin was a much larger substitute for the turnip. If it's larger, it's scarier. If it's scarier it will ward off evil spirits.

But, why are they called jack-o-lanterns? Well, it all started with an Irishman (of course) named Jack who was forced to roam the earth with just a burning coal inside his pumpkin to light the way for him. He had to roam the earth forever because he had never performed a single selfless act his whole life, oh my!

But, why the door-to-door trick-or-treating you ask? Well, once again we go back to Ireland where there was a custom of farmers going door-to-door to collect food and materials for the Festival of Samhain and the bonfire. Those who gave were promised prosperity; those who didn't received bad luck, oh my! When the Irish immigrants came to America the door-to-door trick-or-treating came with them and thus the traditions began.

So, once again crafters and doll makers have tradition and folklore to credit for a slew of wondrous crafts and dolls to make for Halloween, oh my! It's one of my favorite times of the year.

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