Dressing up in costumes and trick-or-treating are popular Halloween activities, but few probably associate these lighthearted fall traditions with their origins in Samhain, a three-day ancient Celtic pagan festival.
For the Celts, who lived during the Iron Age in what is now Ireland, Scotland, the U.K. and other parts of Northern Europe, Samhain (meaning literally, in modern Irish, “summer’s end”) marked the end of summer and kicked off the Celtic new year. Ushering in a new year signaled a time of both death and rebirth, something that was doubly symbolic because it coincided with the end of a bountiful harvest season and the beginning of a cold and dark winter season that would present plenty of challenges.
According to historian Nicholas Rogers, author of Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Samhain was a “time of stock-taking and perhaps sacrifice” — including probably animal sacrifice — during which “pastoral communities [prepared] to survive the winter.”
Rogers also notes that little is firmly known about the particulars of the holiday, since the limited sources available are either folkloric literature like the Celtic sagas and Roman authors who would have likely “trashed” the traditions of a culture with which they were often in conflict.
To understand what we do know about Samhain, it’s important to recognize how the structure of the year’s calendar affected the Celts’ religious practices. According to The Guardian,…
Juneteenth is an annual holiday which occurs on June 19th and is observed in the United States. It is one of the oldest celebrations of the abolition of slavery in the world. While this holiday isn’t an official government holiday in any U.S state, it is recognized as a ceremonial observance in roughly half of the U.S states and is observed as a “partial staffing holiday” in Texas – which means that government offices do not close on this day but some employees are allowed to take the day off by using a floating holiday.
When is Juneteenth?
|This year (2019)||June 19 (Wednesday)|
|Next year (2020)||June 19 (Friday)|
|Last year (2018)||June 19 (Tuesday)|
History of Juneteenth
The history of Juneteenth can be traced all the way back to June 19th of 1865. This is when the Union Army, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that all former slaves were now free. Although President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, slavery hadn’t ended in Texas because there weren’t enough Union soldiers in the state to enforce the new order. However, the sound defeat of General Lee in April of that year and the arrival of the Union soldiers under Granger strengthened the forces sufficiently enough to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.
While the original reason for why Texas was over two years behind in freeing slaves is lost to the fog of time. However, there are a few stories that have been passed down through the generations to explain the delay. The first story tells of a messenger who was on his way to Texas to deliver the order of freedom when he was captured and murdered. Another possibility is that the plantations ignored the order so they could maintain their free working force.
On June 19th, 1865, Major General Granger read General Order Number 3 to the people of Texas. This order stated: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.” Reaction to this order by the former slaves was as varied as you could imagine. Some of the slaves stayed on under their former masters in a working capacity, while others left immediately after the order was read. Some of the headed North and others head to other parts of the South looking for family members they may have been separated. As more and more families united, they remembered fondly the day they acquired their freedom and began to celebrate it as Juneteenth. The day gained further prominence during the Civil Rights Movement.
Where is Juneteenth celebrated?
This will be the only post for today. Please light a candle in memory of the people and animals who have died over the centuries to keep the restof of us safe.
May those who remember rest peacefully in the Summerlands.
May their family and friends find comfort and support to help ease their grief.
So mote it be.
Witch medicine is wild medicine. It does more than make one healthy, it creates lust and knowledge, ecstasy and mythological insight. In Witchcraft Medicine the authors take the reader on a journey that examines the women who mix the potions and become the healers; the legacy of Hecate; the demonization of nature’s healing powers and sensuousness; the sorceress as shaman; and the plants associated with witches and devils. They explore important seasonal festivals and the plants associated with them, such as wolf’s claw and calendula as herbs of the solstice and alder as an herb of the time of the dead–Samhain or Halloween. They also look at the history of forbidden medicine from the Inquisition to current drug laws, with an eye toward how the sacred plants of our forebears can be used once again.
Really loved this book and would recommend it anyone, from novice to long time established practitioners. Happy reading and blessings.