Yo! Dawg! What the Muck….Olla? I know; Halloween brings out all the loonies.

Somebody thought you might be interested to know a little about Halloween, so here’s a letter for you with everything you ever wanted to know (or not) about Halloween. So who’s Muck Olla anyway? We’ll get there. Read on and find out. It’s way cool. I will, as painlessly as possible for you and me, give you some info to lock away in your brain until one day you feel the need to share it, or not. You may just keep it tucked it away somewhere, and when you’re old, and believe me, one day you’ll wake up that way, you’ll see it and read it again and think, “How cool is this?” So what’s the story that has turned into a $400,000,000 a year biz? Halloween! No kidding, dawg, 400 mill a year and rising. Halloween isn’t just about putting on a killer costume and begging for goods or missing some kickin’ party because you gotta take your kid bro or sis around to beg for goods. Let me tell you, when Halloween started, before they even called it “Halloween,” like 4000 years ago, it was the rippenest party around—bonfires and dancing all night outside on the top of this hill, a hill that was really a portal to the underworld, called the “sidhe.” Now, that’s my idea of a kickin’ time. Back in the day, over in Ireland and Scotland and parts of England, like over in the west, by Wales, the Celts (Kelts) used to party down. It was their New Year’s Rockin’ Eve celebration. The end of the Celtic year fell on the full moon nearest October 31st of our calendar. They didn’t have months. They had seasons--two of them--winter and summer. The year ended when summer ended, so they threw a party, and they called it Samhain (Sounds like Sowen and rhymes with Cowen). Samhain means “summer’s end.” You may remember, if you’re into monsters like me, that this was written in blood on a chalkboard in Halloween II. But anyway, back to the Celts. They believed that on this night the veil between the living world and the world of the dead was at its thinnest, and all the people, cool and bogus, that died that year could come back. What a trip, huh? Hey man, stranger things have happened. I’m not sure what they are, but they have.

Well, the Celts were pretty much OK with the cool ones coming back, but they were pretty freaked out about the bogus ones roaming around. They were also freaked out about the days getting shorter, since that’s what happens in the winter. Duh. You took science and learned that in the fifth grade, right? Even if you were snoozing that day, it’s pretty obvious. Anyway, they were freaked out about the shorter days and how fricken’ cold it was getting. The thought crossed their minds that between the insane psycho spirits and the weather they were basically screwed. So what did they do? They threw a party! Yeah, buddy! When in doubt, throw a party, right? So, like good pagans, they prayed their little heads off (and put animal heads on instead, not everybody, but some) to the sun god Muck Olla. No kidding. See, there really was a Muck Olla involved. They prayed something like this, “Muck Olla, Muck Olla, What the Muck?” Psyche! I don’t know what they said exactly, I wasn’t there, and the Celts and their Druid priests didn’t exactly leave a paper trail. Like I said, I don’t know what they said, but I do, sorta, probably, a little, maybe know, how their night went. It was crazy, that’s for sure. They would put out all the fires inside their homes to trick the spirits into thinking they weren’t around, and they’d leave food, or whatever, by the front door, in case the spirits came by. People would knock and beg for something in the name of Muck Olla, like money or food or whatever, and the visitors would say a prayer to Muck Olla in their name. It was like buy a prayer, or door-to-door prayer salespeople, or whatever. After that, they’d go to the Samhain celebration. The bonfire was the happening place to be. Like I said, most of the house fires were out, but people would carve out turnips, yes, turnips, not pumpkins, and put a candle in them to make lanterns. They would carry these lanterns, because it was stinkin’ dark (no electricity ya know) and leave the lanterns along the trail up to the sidhe, the portal to the underworld. They’d build this huge bonfire and put on skins and animal heads and stuff as disguises to trick the spirits into believing they were spirits too. Trip, huh? They may have dressed up like that to frighten the spirits off. You gotta realize, this was a long time ago. Spirits may not be so easily taken in today.

I guess, either way, it sounds pretty different. If they would have written things down, I’d be able to tell you for sure what their intentions were, but they didn’t. Anyway, the Celts and the Druids were mysterious, but totally cool. Just because you do things that are different from the mainstream, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Everyone’s entitled to practice their faith, unless it hurts people. Geez, this is getting pretty long, and I haven’t even gotten to the name change, yet. Shall I go on? Heck yeah! So anyway, later, like a few thousand years later, the Romans came in and pretty much took over everything. You know, “All roads lead to Rome…” and all that. Well, that’s not too farfetched. All roads pretty much did lead to Rome. The Romans were pretty good at letting the people they “conquered” keep doing whatever they were doing, as long as they remembered who was in charge. This worked pretty well, probably resulted in avoiding a lot of conflict, and is probably why they had such a successful takeover. Anyway, they’d let people do their own thing, their own traditions and stuff, like whoopin’ it up on Samhain, but, of course, they wanted to put their own twist on it. The Romans had their own celebration about this time of year to honor this chick god—this goddess—(that’s better) named Pomona. She was like the goddess of the harvest and orchards. They ate apples and nuts, and stuff like Pomona that, and gave them away as treats at the Festival of Pomona. So anyway, the Romans combined the two celebrations, the Festival of Pomona and Samhain, and they had an even a bigger blow out. But no matter how much the Romans tried, the Celts pretty much just let them think they were going for it, so the Celts still did the bonfire thing and dressed up in skins and danced at the sidhe, the portal of the underworld. It was all good. Is this getting too frickin’ long? Dude! Relax! You can’t stop now. Put it down for awhile, if you have to, but you better pick it back up and finish it or you won’t know how it ends, and I will have looked up all this stuff for nothing! Well, later the Christians moved in, and they couldn’t have the pesky pagans worshipping some sun god or a goddess of the harvest and orchards and dancing in animal skins around a big bonfire on the portal to the underworld. It didn’t set well with the Catholic Church. So, just like

the Romans had done, the Christians put their own twist on it and created All Saints Day, which was in May, to begin with, but moved to Nov. 1st, to try and rid the world of these two unchristian-like festivals. So, this All Saints Day, also called Hallowmas, was a day to honor all saints known and unknown. People, both kids and adults, would go door-to-door on All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, souling (Trick or Treating back in the day), to get these little “soul cakes” and, in return, would say a prayer for the saints and those that croaked the year before. It was like door-to-door prayer salespeople, just like the Celts did with Muck Olla and the food and money. Anyway, that’s where the name Halloween came from. All Hallows Eve or All Hallows Even, the night before All Saints’ Day, was just shortened to Halloween. Many of the Celts kept throwin their traditional Samhain party, and after the potato famine, millions of Irish came here and then Scots and English came over for religious reasons in the 18 Irish immigrant boys hundreds. All of them brought their traditions with them. Many had Celtic backgrounds. Many were Catholic. Many were not. So Halloween, with its ancient mixture of Samhain, the Festival of Pomona, and All Saints Day, costumes, skins , bonfires, dancing, singing, lanterns, begging, and giving crossed the ocean to America, and now grosses like $400,000,000+ a year. Man, I could be chillin’ with 400 millin’. ChaChing! ChaChing! I’ve gone on long enough, if you’re even still out there. Hello? Hello? Hello? Is there anybody out there? I’m sure there is a question burning in some of your heads, though. What happened to the turnip lanterns? I say, “Right on to you, inquisitive brainiacs!” We don’t carve turnips, what the Muck? Well most of us don’t. I suppose there still could be some die-hard turnip carvers out there. It’s simple. Pumpkins are easier to carve and are bigger, so they make better lanterns. Besides, there weren’t any pumpkins there anyway. Now why the lantern is “Jack?” Well, that’s a story for a different letter. So hey man, have a blast this Halloween! Don’t get too crazy, though. Spirits, both descent and bogus, are about.

Happy Halloween The Mistress of Samhain p.s. (post script) Halloween is also known as “All Hallow’s Eve, Hallow E’en, Eve of All Hallows (see a pattern here?), Hollandtide, All Holland, Hallows, Puca Night, Vizar or Vazard’s Night, Juggy Night (Not Jiggy Night) Blackman’s Night (because, in some places, they rubbed burnt cork on there faces to disguise themselves), Hugata Night, Snap Apple Night, Nutcrack Night (really—but no worries, it’s not those kind of nuts), Colcannon Night, Gate Night (because the Gates of Heaven and Hell are like open), and we can’t forget Dias des los Muertos (although this isn’t exactly on Oct. 31) and Guy Fawkes night, which is really a trippy story, that lands on Nov. 5…… p.s.s. It is said that witches wear black because black has in it all the colors of the spectrum. p.s.s.s. Did you know that the Salem witch trials weren’t held in Salem, Massachusetts, at all, but in Danvers Massachusetts? p.s.s.s.s. If you remember nothing else, remember that my name does not rhyme with champagne, but with “cow en,” and sounds like “sow en.” You wouldn’t want to displease me now, would you……..?

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