The origins of Trick or Treat
Trick-or-treating—calling from house to house in search of candy and other goodies—has been a popular Halloween tradition for around 100 years. But the origins of this community-based ritual remain hazy. Possible forerunners to modern day trick-or-treating have been identified in ancient Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays and medieval practices.
Halloween has its roots in the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the UK and northern France, believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain. People gathered to light bonfires, offer sacrifices and pay homage to the deceased.
Although it is unknown precisely where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined, the custom had been firmly established in American popular culture by 1951, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. In 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” featuring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.
During some Celtic celebrations of Samhain, villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away phantom visitors; banquet tables were prepared and edible offerings were left out to placate unwelcome spirits. In later centuries, people began dressing as ghosts, demons and other creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This custom, known as mumming, dates back to the middle ages.
In 1000 A.D the church designated November 2 as All Souls’ Day, a time for honoring the dead. Celebrations in England resembled Celtic commemorations of Samhain, complete with bonfires and masquerades. Poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. Known as souling, the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food, money and ale.
In Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called guising, dressing up in costume and accepting offerings from various households. Rather than pledging to pray for the dead, they would sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke or perform a“trick” before collecting their treat, which typically consisted of fruit, nuts or coins.
All Hallows’ Eve falls on 31st October each year, and is the day before All Hallows Day, also known as All Saints Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows’ Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself. The name derives from the Old English ‘hallowed’ meaning holy or sanctified and is now usually contracted to the more familiar word Hallowe’en.
The Story of St George and the Dragon..
St George’s Day is the one day of the year, apart from major football tournaments, when you are guaranteed to see English flags being waved proudly across the country.
April 23 is a national day of celebration about all things English but St George’s Day isn’t honoured as widely as those of other patron saints – St Patrick being a notable example.
Saint George is the patron saint of England. He’s popularly identified with England and the english ideals of honour, bravery and gallantry – but actually he wasn’t English at all. Very little, if anything, is known about the real Saint George, his annual feast, or why we celebrate him…
In fact the story of Saint George is so wrapped in myth and legend that it’s difficult to extract the historical facts of a real life. Some believe he never existed or that he’s a Christianised version of an older pagan myth. According to legend, was a soldier in the Roman army who was later venerated as a Christian Martyr. His parents were of Greek background, his father Gerontius was a Roman army official from Cappadocia and his mother Polychronia was a Christian from Lydda in the Roman province of Syria. Accounts differ regarding whether George was born in Cappadocia or Syria Palaestina, but agree that he was raised at least partly in Lydda. Saint George became an officer in the Roman army in the Guard of Diocletian, who ordered his death for failing to recant his Christian faith. Many countries, cities, professions and organisations claim Saint George as their patron.
The myth of Saint George and the dragon only achieved mass circulation when it was printed in 1483 by Caxton in a book called The Golden Legend. In the middle ages dragons were commonly used to represent the devil.
Legend has it that the town of Silene in Libya had a small lake with a plague-bearing dragon living in it and poisoning the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene fed it two sheep every day. When they ran out of sheep they started feeding it their children, chosen by lottery. One time the lot fell on the king’s daughter.The king, in his grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, dressed as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.
By chance, St George rode past the lake. The princess, tried to send him away, but George vowed to remain. As soon as the dragon saw him it rushed from its cave, roaring with a sound louder than thunder. Its head was immense and its tail fifty feet long. But St. George was not afraid. He struck the monster with his spear, hoping he would wound it.
The dragon’s scales were so hard that the spear broke into a thousand pieces. and St. George fell from his horse. Fortunately he rolled under an enchanted orange tree against which poison could not prevail, so that the venomous dragon was unable to hurt him. Within a few minutes he had recovered his strength and was able to fight again.
He smote the beast with his sword, but the dragon poured poison on him and his armour split in two. Once more he refreshed himself from the orange tree and then, with his sword in his hand, he rushed at the dragon and pierced it under the wing where there were no scales, seriously wounding it. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon’s neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash. The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the populace. Saint George offered to kill the dragon if they consented to become Christians and be baptised. Fifteen thousand men including the king of Silene converted to christianity. George then killed the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. The king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George on the site where the dragon died and a spring flowed from its altar with water that cured all disease.
The History of Easter
Easter is the holiday that celebrates and commemorates the central event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion. All major branches of Christianity observe the holiday. Today, other than church attendance, the holiday often involves Easter Eggs for toys and candy as well as the imagery of bunnies and rabbits.
Easter is a deeply religious holiday and the most important period of the church year. Easter is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week, followed by the Easter Season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of Christian faith, according to the Apostle Paul, if Jesus Christ has not been resurrected then the Christian faith would be futile and therefore, without Easter there would be no Christianity.
The Passion of Christ (Passion coming from the latin word for suffering) is the short final period in the life of Jesus from his entrance visit to Jerusalem and leading up to his crucifixion. It is preceded by Lent, a 40 day period of fasting, prayer and penance in preparation for Easter, which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts forty days. The week before Easter is known as Holy Week and is very special in the Christian tradition. The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday, with the Wednesday before Easter known as Spy Wednesday. The last 3 days before Easter are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (sometimes referred to as Silent Saturday). Many churches begin celebrating Easter late in the evening of Holy Saturday at a service called the Easter vigil. In some countries, Easter lasts two days, with the second called Easter Monday
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are identical or very similar. Easter Customs vary across the Christian World, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal Greeting and decorating of Easter eggs. The Easter Lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter include Easter egg hunting, the Easter bunny, and Easter parades. There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.
Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday. A Hot Cross Bun is a rich, spiced tea cake. Easter day, like Christmas day, is also associated with special food such as Roast lamb, which is the main dish at Jewish Passover and the traditional meat for the main meal on Easter Day because Jesus and his disciples would probably have eaten lamb at the last supper in preparation for the Jewish Passover. Boiled eggs are traditionally served at breakfast and Simnel cake is baked for tea, a fruit cake with a flat layer of marzipan with eleven, or occasionally twelve, marzipan balls used to decorate the cake
The origins of the word “Easter” are not certain, but probably derive from Estre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The German word Ostern has the same derivation, but most other languages follow the Greek term used by the early Christians: pascha, from the Hebrew pesach (Passover). Over the centuries, Easter Sunday has been supplemented by popular customs, many of were incorporated from springtime fertility celebrations of European and Middle Eastern pagan religion. Rabbits and eggs, for example, are widely-used pagan symbols for fertility.
The tradition of chocolate eggs began in 19th-century France and Germany and soon spread to the rest of Europe and eventually the USA. To receive the special Easter eggs, children were told to make nests from hats or baskets so the Easter Bunny could leave them there. It is likely that children play an important role in the origin of the fun side of Easter. For many Christians, this is a serious holy day, dealing with issues of life and death and because of the difficulty of sharing these issues in age-appropriate ways, sometimes we divert to the more lighthearted symbols of eggs and rabbits, hence the proliferation of Easter eggs. Rabbits and hares have been associated with spring since ancient times. It is thought that the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre, had a hare as her companion, which symbolised fertility and rebirth.
St Patrick’s Day March 17
St Patrick is one of the patron saints of Ireland. He is said to have died on March 17 in or around the year 493. He grew up in Roman Britain, but was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave when he was a young adult. After some years he returned to his family and entered the church like his father and grandfather before him. He later returned to Ireland to work as a missionary.
According to popular legend, St Patrick rid Ireland of snakes. However, it is thought that there have been no snakes in Ireland since the last ice age. The “snakes” that St Patrick banished from Ireland, may refer to the druids or pagan worshipers of snake or serpent gods. He is said to be buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Ireland.
Luke Wadding, a Franciscan scholar born in 1588 in Waterford was influential in ensuring that the anniversary of St Patrick’s death became a feast day in the Catholic Church. Many Catholic churches traditionally move St Patrick’s Day to another date if March 17 falls during Holy Week.
Many immigrants from Ireland fled to other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the USA in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many Irish customs, including the St Patrick’s Day celebrations have now become popular in these countries.
The most common St Patrick’s Day symbol is the shamrock. The shamrock is the leaf of the clover plant and a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Many people wear the color green and the flag of the Republic of Ireland is often seen in St Patrick’s Day parades around the world. Irish brands of drinks are popular at St Patrick’s Day events. The first St Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland was held in Waterford in 1903.
St Patrick’s Day is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and is celebrated in many parts of the world, especially by Irish communities and organizations. Many people wear an item of green clothing on the day. Parties featuring Irish food and drinks that are dyed in green food color are part of this celebration. It is a time when children can indulge in sweets and adults can enjoy a “pint” of guiness at a local pub. Many restaurants and pubs offer Irish food or drink, which include:
Irish brown bread.
Corned beef and cabbage.
Beef and Guinness pie.
Irish cream chocolate mousse cake.
Irish potato champ, also known as poundies, cally or pandy.
Irish potato soup.
Some people plan a pilgrimage to St Patrick’s Purgatory, which is commonly associated with penance and spiritual healing since the early 13th century. It is on Station Island in Lough Derg in County Donegal where St Patrick had a vision promising that all who came to the sanctuary in penitence and faith would receive a pardon for their sins.
Shrove Tuesday and the tradition of Pancake Day
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that Christians used to undergo in the past. Shrive means ‘to absolve’ where a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them. When a person receives absolution, they are forgiven for their sins and released from guilt and pain. In the Catholic or Orthodox context, the absolution is pronounced by a priest. This tradition is over 1000 years old. Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9. In 2016 Shrove Tuesday falls on February 9th.
Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it’s the last day before Lent. Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge and use up the foods that aren’t allowed in Lent, giving up foods, but not wasting them. In the old days there were many foods that observant Christians would not eat during Lent: such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods. So that no food was wasted, families would have a feast on the shriving Tuesday, and eat up all the food that wouldn’t last for the forty days of Lent.
In other countries, this tradition is called ‘Mardi Gras’ (french for ‘Fat Tuesday’) or some translation thereof, and is a carnival day, and also the last day of “fat eating” or “gorging” before the ritual fasting period of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.
Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour. A pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan. A traditional English pancake is very thin and is served immediately. Golden syrup or lemon juice and caster sugar are the usual toppings for pancakes. The pancake has a long history and featured in cookery books as far back as 1439. The tradition of tossing or flipping them is almost as old: “And every man and maide doe take their turne, And toss their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).
In the UK, pancake races form an important part of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations – an opportunity for large numbers of people, often in fancy dress, to race down streets tossing pancakes. The object of the race is to get to the finishing line first, carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake in it and flipping the pancake as you run.
The History of Burns Night
Burns night falls on January 25th every year, on the birthday of the scottish poet Robert Burns. Many people across the UK celebrate this date with a traditional Burns supper. The centrepiece of any Burns supper is the scottish dish of haggis which is made from sheep heart, liver and lungs and prepared in the stomach lining accompanied by mashed ‘neeps and tatties’ (turnips, swedes and potatoes) or a vegetarian alternative.
The order of the night usually begins with the piping in of the haggis until everyone is seated and then the supper host reading ‘address to Haggis’ an ode written by Burns as the meat is cut followed by ‘The Selkirk Grace’ a short prayer to usher in the meal..
“some hae meat and canna eat, and some wad eat that want it, but we hae meat and we can eat, and sae the lord be thankit”
This is followed by a toast to the haggis and after the meal a celebration of Burns’ work and life and poem readings and ends with a toast to the lassies – praising the role of women in the world today.
As well as traditional scottish food, the night is not complete without a drink of whisky. A wee dram of malt goes down well with the haggis. People also usually sing a rousing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to end the night.
The poet Robert Burns is Scotland’s national poet and is famous for his creative literary works and wrote more than 550 poems and songs before his death in 1796, aged just 37 from rheumatic fever. His best known works include ‘A Red, Red Rose’ and ‘A Man’s a Man For A’ That’.
Burns night is most popular in Scotland, however there has been a surge in popularity in recent times and now Burns themed nights are held all over the UK.
New Years Traditions and Hogmanay
31 December, the last day of the year which we call New Years Eve…
It is traditional in the UK to celebrate and stay up late to see in the new year. All over Britain there are parties, fireworks and singing and dancing, to ring out the old year and ring in the new. As the clock strikes midnight, people all over the UK, cross their arms across their chests, link arms and sing a song called ‘Auld Lang Syne’ reminding them of friends old and new.
‘Auld Lang Syne’ is an old Scottish song first published by poet Robert Burns in 1788, although the tune was in print over 80 years before this. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is from old Scottish dialect and is translated as ‘times gone by’. It is about love and friendship in times gone by. ‘We’ll take a cup of kindness yet’ relates to a drink shared by men and women to symbolize friendship.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”
In Scotland they always seem to celebrate New Year better than anywhere else. The celebration of New Year’s Eve is called “Hogmanay”. The word Hogmanay comes from a kind of oat cake that was traditionally given to children on New Year’s Eve.
It is believed that many of the traditional Hogmanay celebrations were originally brought to Scotland by the invading Vikings in the early 8th and 9th centuries. These Norsemen, or men from an even more northerly latitude than Scotland, paid particular attention to the arrival of the Winter Solstice or the shortest day, and fully intended to celebrate its passing with some serious partying.
In Shetland, where the Viking influence remains strongest, New Year is still called Yules, deriving from the Scandinavian word for the midwinter festival of Yule.
It may surprise many people to note that Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this dates back to the years of Protestant Reformation, when the straight-laced Kirk proclaimed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast, and as such needed banning.
And so it was, right up until the 1950s that many Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter solstice holiday at New Year when family and friends would gather for a party and to exchange presents which came to be known as hogmanays.
“First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark male, carrying salt, coal and bread (and sometimes a wee dram of whisky). This means that the following year everyone in the house will have enough to eat (bread), enough money (salt) and be warm enough (coal). The dark male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year!
The firework displays and torchlight processions now enjoyed throughout many cities are reminders of the ancient pagan parties from those Viking days of long ago.
New Year’s Eve in Wales is called “Nos Galan” , and whilst they also believe in letting out the old year and letting in the new, if the first visitor in the New Year is a woman and a man opens the door it’s considered bad luck. In addition, if the first man to cross the threshold in the New Year is a red head, that is also bad luck.
People in Wales also believe that you should pay off all debts before the New Year begins. Tradition states that ending a year in debt means a whole new year of debt.
On New Year’s Day “Dydd Calan” in Wales the children get up early to visit their neighbors and sing songs. They are given coins, mince pies, apples and other sweets for singing. This stops at midday.
it can also depend on where you live as to when you celebrate New Year in Wales. Some areas still celebrate Dydd Calan on January 12th.
THE STORY OF PANTOMIME
In the UK, the word ‘Pantomime’ means a form of entertainment, generally performed during the christmas season. Most cities and towns stage shows at this time of the year.
The origins of pantomime or ‘Panto’ date back to the middle ages taking on board the traditions of the Italian “Commedia dell” Arte and British music hall to produce an art form that has constantly adapted to the present day.
Modern Panto includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing and employs gender-crossing actors and topical humour. It is also particapatory theatre in which the audience are invited to sing along and shout out phrases to the performers.
By the early 18th century, the first use of the word ‘Pantomime’ emerged. A “ballet pantomime was created, “The lovers of Mars and Venus” in 1717 followed by “Harlequin Sorcerer” produced by John Rich. Harlequinades were performed all year round at his Lincoln Inn Fields Theatre and became so popular that David Garrick at Drury Lane Theatre felt obliged to start his own pantomimes, this time with spoken lines and less emphasis on mime. By 1773 Theatre Royal, Drury Lane,presented “Jack The Giant Killer” which still continues to this day.
Pantomime as we know it today is often based on fairy tale or folk legend. The most popular titles include : “Cinderella”, “Aladdin”, “Snow White”, “Dick Whittington”, “Jack & The Beanstalk” and “Sleeping Beauty”. “Peter Pan” is also very popular although some would argue that this is not strictly a pantomime but a children’s story (by J.M.Barrie). “Peter Pan” was first performed at the Duke Of York Theatre in 1904 and is one of the most popular pantomimes in the UK and has also transferred succesfully to America.
A visit to a pantomime may be a child’s first experience of live theatre, and if magical enough can create a lasting impression. A visit to see a pantomime can be the catalyst to a whole new world of creativity and joy where children will shout “Oh yes it is!” and “he’s behind you”! as loudly as they can and long may this tradition continue.
Festive Mince pies..
This crumbly, fruity mince pie recipe is a Christmas classic. Serve warm with lashings of brandy butter.
- Lightly butter a 12-hole pie or patty tin. Tip the mincemeat into a bowl and stir so that the liquid is evenly distributed.
- Place the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a food processor and process briefly until resembling breadcrumbs, then slowly add the egg through the feeder tube. (Or rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand and stir in the egg.)
- Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour or so. Thinly roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Cut out 12 circles with a fluted pastry cutter, large enough to fill the base of the prepared tin. Press gently into each hole, then fill with the mincemeat.
- Cut out another 12 slightly smaller discs and use to cover the mincemeat. Press the edges together to seal. Make a small slit in the top of each, then brush lightly with milk. Chill for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- Bake the pies for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and serve warm.
November 5th – Bonfire Night
Four hundred years ago, in 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes and a group of plotters attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London with barrels of gunpowder placed in the basement. They wanted to kill King James and the king’s leaders.
When Queen Elizabeth 1st took the throne of England she made some laws against Roman Catholics. Guy Fawkes was one of a small group of Catholics who felt that the government were treating Roman Catholics unfairly. They hoped that King James 1st would change the laws, but he didn’t.
Catholics had to practise their religion in secret. There were even fines for people who didn’t attend the Protestant church on Sunday or on holy days. James lst passed more laws against the Catholics when he became king.
The Gunpowder Plot
A group of men led by Robert Catesby, plotted to kill King James and blow up the Houses of Parliament, where the laws were passed.
The plot was simple – the next time Parliament was opened by King James l, they would blow up everyone there with gunpowder. The men bought a house next door to the parliament building. The house had a cellar which went under the parliament building where they planned to put gunpowder and blow up parliament and the king.
Guy Fawkes was given the job to keep watch over the barrels of gunpowder and light the fuse. On the morning of 5th November, soldiers discovered Guy hidden in the cellar and arrested him. The trail of gunpowder at his feet would never be lit.
In celebration of his survival, King James ordered that the people of England should have a great bonfire on the night on 5th November. This is the event we now call Bonfire night, which we celebrate by burning ‘guys’ on bonfires and firework displays.
The Forbury Newspaper
Travelling by Moonlight
The opening of our art ‘Travelling by Moonlight’ exhibition coincided with the ‘Remember Me’ event at the Courtyard Centre for the Arts in Hereford. It was visited by over 600 people.
Residents at The Forbury produced a collection of pictures, including a large picture based on the theme ‘Significant Clothing’, produced by residents and pupils from Leominster Primary School.
Residents described in detail memorable clothing such as: uniforms for the Women’s Land Army , Army Despatch Rider, Lancaster Bomber Pilot, RAF Navigator, Nursing Sister, farmer, secretary and
clothing from childhood. Each canvas features a portrait of the resident wearing that piece of clothing, and added to the canvases are swatches of fabric, buttons, and related memorabilia.
We shall be presenting the completed mural to the school in October. The mural is of historic significance and will be treasured by the school.
In July The Forbury took part in the Leominster in Bloom competition by entering our garden.
Many residents contributed to the garden, choosing favourite plants such as lobelia, marigold, patio roses, geraniums, nicotina, daisies and many more. The garden was designed in a circular made in wooden segments that surround the fountain which Marius made, which we thank him for.
Steve came to help with the gardening and our residents working with Emma, Tom and Jeanette planted hanging baskets, plant pots and window boxes and added painted decorations the garden including glittery pinecones hanging in the trees, painted shells and stones and mosaic wall decorations.
Leominster town was awarded a Silver Medal, in the 2015 In Bloom competition.