Monday, November 15, 2010

All Hallow's Eve

I am soooo behind on blogging!  I fully intended to share our family's celebrations of All Hallow's Eve & All Souls Day, and never quite got around to it.  Now, it's two weeks into November, but why not, right?  

So, let me start with a few thoughts on the holidays themselves.  I have friends who do not celebrate Halloween.  I have friends who do not celebrate most holidays.  And, I totally understand and respect those wishes.  They are based on TRUTH, and let's face it, most American holidays have lost their TRUTH!  In America or in today's commercialized, consumerism-based society, all holidays seem to revolve around money.  Money being spent on candy.  Money being spent on decorations.  Money being spent on gifts.  If you're not careful, the holidays can become very selfish.  What am I gonna GET?  What do I WANT to GET?  Of course, you're probably thinking that that sounds more like a Christmas thing.  To most people, I'd say that Halloween isn't that big of a deal.  To most people, I'd guess that Halloween is about dressing up and getting candy.  That's pretty much the extent of it.  To most people.  To people like my friends who don't celebrate, I'm guessing it has to do with it's Pagan roots or with the misinterpretation that it has something to do with celebrating evil.  

Now, let me move onto my own precious family.  The truth about history and holidays and religion is very important in our household as well, but I think we see things a little differently.  I am absolutely determined to raise children who do NOT see Christmas or other holidays as a "What am I gonna GET" kind of occasion!  I really want my children to learn the history behind the holidays.  To learn what they mean.  But, I still want them to enjoy the experiences and the traditions of it all.  In my humble opinion, you can have TRUTH and still have fun, family traditions.  Take Christmas, for instance.  I know (and so do my children) that Jesus was not born on December 25th.  My daughter will tell you that he was most likely born in the spring.  She has been educated on the subject.  But, we also know that Jesus was born at some time, and while we do not know the exact date that he was born, the fact that he was born is worth celebrating!  We also know that the Christmas season is one of the most joyous times of the year.  That it is all about family and giving and traditions and love.  What better time than that to celebrate the life of such an amazing soul?  So, while we do know that Jesus was not born on the 25th of December, we DO celebrate the fact that he WAS born, and we celebrate it on that day.  

Back to Halloween.  I think some people misinterpret the holiday's origins to mean that it in some way celebrates or honors evil.  That simply isn't true.  The holidays (three of them, to be exact ~ All Hallow's Eve, All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day) have their origins in a place that is cold and dark in the winter months.  The people would light bonfires to keep the sun burning through the winter.  Early people also believed that the souls of the past could sort of cross-over at this time.  They would light warm fires inside their homes to welcome the spirits of their ancestors.  They would prepare food for them.  Of course, if the good spirits could join us, then the bad ones could, too.  That is where the dressing up came into play and the lighting of the jack-o-lanterns.  No one was ever trying to honor the evil souls; they were trying to scare them away.  Sometimes people hear the word Pagan and they run for the hills as if it is Satanic or something.  It isn't a bad thing (in my personal opinion) to celebrate Nature, to celebrate this wonderful and amazing place that God created for us all to enjoy!  In my view, when we celebrate and honor Nature, we are celebrating God's creation.  So, if Pagans lit huge fires to give the sun the strength to make it through the long winter, they were honoring God's creation.  And, a time to honor my loved ones who have passed?  Well, I'm sorry, but that gets near and dear to my heart!  I'm a logical woman.  I realize that these were the beliefs of people a very long time ago.  But, if I can pretend even for a day or two that my Daddy and my little brother can come and "hang out" with me and my family, by golly, I'm gonna!  It was such a joy for me to hear the Princess talk about how she wished it were true so that could see her Uncle Wesley!  

So, this year, we decided to teach the girls about the holidays and their origins.  We decided to start some new family traditions and to continue some that we have had since they were babies.  We taught them about the Celts and their bonfires and their warm fires inside and their food.  We taught them that November 1st is a day that Catholics celebrate all of the Saints, and that we could easily celebrate all of those good, God-loving, caring and generous souls.  We taught them that November 2nd is All Soul's Day ~ a day to honor ALL dead souls, a day to remember Uncle Wesley and Papa.  

And, along with the teaching, we HAD FUN. 

We got up in the morning and had our morning tea out on the porch.  The girls made pumpkin muffins with their Daddy.  We all went over to the pumpkin patch and picked out some gourds to make our fall center piece with, some small acorns and a couple of tiny pumpkins.  Then, the girls each picked out a pumpkin for carving.  Now, this part has been a tradition since they were babies.  Every year we have let the girls draw on their pumpkin with a sharpie and Daddy has done his best to cut out whatever they drew.  In the past, it has been a squiggly mess.  This year, though, they both made "real faces".  The Fairy drew a lion's face.  The Princess drew a scary face, she said to "scare away the bad spirits" ... aaaah, she WAS paying attention to those history lessons!  :-)  Halloween fell on a Sunday this year, so of course, we were watching football while carving our pumpkins!  Then, we dyed the Fairy's bangs pink, I curled her hair and helped her find some jewelry to go with her Reggae Star costume.  Daddy made some wings out of leaves to add to the Princess's dinosaur costume because what she really wanted to be was a DRAGON.  And, we headed out for a little bit of trick-or-treating.  Not too much, of course.  Just enough.  And, then they were tired.  And, off to bed they went.  

The next day, we picked out some favorites (only chocolate) and left the rest of the candy (all they sugary ones) out for the Sugar Plum Fairies.  The Sugar Plum Fairies (Uncle Scott) took away all of the candy and the girls each received a small token in its place ~ we got them these little make-your-own-stain glass things for $2.99 a piece.  It was a lovely story and a wonderful way to get most of that sugar out of the house!

A couple of things I wanted to do, but didn't were to visit a local cemetery and place flowers on a couple of graves that looked unkempt.  I'd like to do that next year, and start a tradition.   I'd also like to take this time to break out photo albums and tell stories about Uncle Wesley and Papa and Grandmomma and other relatives who have gone to be with God.  Unfortunately, this year, those pictures were all in my mom's attic in another state!

Anyway, then on November 2nd, the girls and I made Soul Cakes, which were SUPER YUMMY!  Excellent tea cookies!  

Here are the pictures of our wonderful holiday celebrations ....     

Pumpkin Muffins ...

















 
Beeswax Crayon Pumpkin Drawings ...















Pumpkin Patch to pick out carving pumpkins ...








Time to carve ...







Drawing on the face (note the game in the background ) ...




Carving ...



The Fairy ~ A Lion's Face

The Princess ~ A Scary Face




Ready to do her hair ...








Pink Bangs






Nature's Wings
























The next day ...







Roasted Pumpkin Seeds  ...








 Making the Stain glass ...







The Fairy's Golden Kitty Kats

The Princess's Horse
 
Making Soul Cakes ...

 
















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