Another Wednesday another blog post. So it is the day after Halloween, we had a lot of kids at our door. We live in a great neighborhood. Its very safe and parents in our town drop their kids off to trick or treat in our area. That’s fine with us, Halloween is a great holiday and we like seeing the little kids.
But, how did all this start?
“Today’s religion is tomorrows myth” a wise man. Many celebrations, holidays and religious observances are overlap, borrowed or redundant. When we as a species were in our formidable years around 2000 years ago, religions competed with one another for followers. This isn’t meant to be cynical it’s just how it was. That doesn’t detract from the piety of those at the time, but religion was different then, faith was an absolute. Meaning, there was no internet, cell phone, most people couldn’t read.
Here we are on the cusp of the western worlds holiday season. Halloween ushers in the season, we get veterans day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Day all within 70 days ( a touch over 2 months). Where do these holidays come from? You know some of the stories, you know, as an example, that the “12 days of Christmas” run concurrently with Chanukah. So, what are some of the other holidays that coincide or more accurately, preceded our current festivals? For Halloween there is Alfablot.
In short, Aflablot is the sacrifice of the elves. Elves in the Viking world mostly represented dead spirits. So, this was a celebration of the dead, for lack of a more eloquent, and lengthy discussion. Sound familiar? Your Norse ancestors would have celebrated this blot toward the end of October. It was after harvest when the world was becoming bleak and barren.
In antiquity, in the Norse world, this was the time of the dead. You prepared most of the year to survive the winter and this was a time when people died to the elements and illness. The Alfablot was a singular ceremony, meaning each house conducted their own, in an effort to reach ancestors and elves in the hopes of communal discourse.
The hope was you would be able to convince the spirits to protect your house and family. There were no trick or treats but, indeed it was like Halloweens origins in spirit. Its symbolic of the end of the harvest, a preparation for winter. The current Halloween ceremony is dressing up, getting candy and partying. Most religions in antiquity considered this the season of the dead. The harvest was over, the world was getting darker and colder (in the west) and people prayed to their gods, ancestors or who ever would listen to let them live through it.
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