Monday, 31 October 2016

Samhain or Halloween, Autumn Glory

Today is Samhain, the Celtic word for 'summer's end'. With the longer nights swallowing up the sun and leaves dropping from the trees winter approaches. Samhain is also known as Halloween, a mixture of pagan & Christian beliefs combined into customs and celebrations to bring in the the darkness of winter. In south Wales there was tradition of men & boys donning ragged clothes, sheepskins and masks. The masked figures represented the spirits of the dead and to refuse them food was to risk vengeance on the house...hence 'trick or treat'. These costumed visitors were known as 'gwarchod' or hags and sang a song about the White Lady as they visited house in the locality where they would be given 'harvest fare' and on returning to the farm would have a traditional supper of 'the mash of nine sorts', a vegetable stew containing nine ingredients, nine being a sacred number.
The tradition of turnip lanterns (now superseded by the imported pumpkin) stems from the ancient Celtic veneration of the head which was considered the seat of the soul.

The trees are rapidly dressing in their autumn livery and each day seems to bring another flash of crimson or burnished gold into the landscape. While some of the trees are costumed in bright shades of yellow, others are clad in rich fox-red and fallen leaves gather in crisp shoals of dusty orange and brown as they are swept into drifts at the sides of the drive by passing traffic.
We are having such a beautiful season and it is so dry and mild that the farm work is easy and pleasurable.There is no mud to speak of, the ground is dry and the air ringing with the chatter of the dozen or so turkeys that are wandering around the yard. The dogs laze the sunshine as though it was summer while the day to day routine of the farm bustles on around them and our farm cat, a very independent creature, was spotted this morning sitting in mass of fallen leaves looking very picturesque. Everyone who calls from the postman first thing in the morning to the AI technician, the milk tanker driver and friends calling for coffee exclaim at how lovely this autumn is proving to be. It is the same sense of cheerfulness as one gets on the first days of spring sunshine.

1 comment: