The Origin of Halloween by Sliver Raven Wolf – Part 6

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All Saints’ Day / All Hallows Eve / Hallowmas

All Saints’ Day and All Hallows Eve (Halloween) were first introduced in the seventh century CE. This date was changed to November 1 to supplant Pagan beliefs because those pesky Pagans just refused to cough up their original Samhain. The day was to honor God and all his saints, known and unknown All Saints’ Day later became Hallowmas, a mass to honor the dead. The Eve of All Hollow’s Eve, October 31, became All Hollow’s Eve, which evolved in to the word Hallowe’en. Although the church wished this time to be one of somber prayer and quiet custom, the Celts continued their customary bonfires and fortune telling.

All Saints’ Day is a bit different. The festival falls on November 2, a day to offer prayer and alms to assist the souls of those departed that managed to get stuck in purgatory, an in-between place that is neither heaven or hell. Over the succeeding centuries, Halloween like Christmas, picked up various customs and discarded others, depending on the complex socialization of the times and religious dictates.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 24 to 29

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 2

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Roman Influence

The month of May takes its name from the goddess Maia, who appears in both Greek and Roman mythologies. In Greece, she was “grandmother,” “midwife,” or “wise one” and she was known as the mother of Hermes. The Romans associated her with their fire goddess of the same name who, along with Flora and Feronia, ruled growth and warmth, including sexual desire. Maia’s day was the first of May, and the associations with growth can still be seen in the Christian dedication of the month to Mary, Queen of Flowers.

When Romans came to Britain, they brought with them their own ancient spring rites. The goddess Flora was worshiped as the embodiment of the flowering of all of nature, including human. She was the queen of plants, the goddess of flowers, and the patron of Roman prostitutes. Flora was honored during a week-long festival from April 28–May 3. The Floralia included the gathering of flowers, used in processions, dances, and games. Young raced to see who could be the first to hang a wreath on Flora’s statue, and wrap garlands around the columns of her temple. The female body was especially6 honored at this time. Graphic, erotic medallions were distributed, and public orgies celebrated the fruitfulness of the earth. The “festival of nude women” was celebrates until the third century CE, when Roman authorities demanded the celebrants be clothed. The sense of unrestrained freedom was even enjoyed by Roman slaves on this day, with the stipulation that they return to their mater’s houses that night.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25