November Eve in Celtic Lore

November Eve

November Eve, or Samhain, celebrates the Moon, the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter. And like other holidays that celebrate the change of the seasons with great bonfires, fairs, and festivals, so does November Eve.

Like many Celtic holidays have a Christian counterpart celebrated on or around the same day, so does November Eve. It is known as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. All Saints’ Day is a day to celebrate all saints known and unknown while All Souls’ Day is to remember all others that have passed on. Typically, families will visit cemeteries and graves, bringing flowers, candles and prayers or blessings. Just like Halloween and the Day of the Dead, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day remember the dead.

And like Halloween and the Day of the Dead, November Eve is the “one night of the year when the dead can leave their graves and dance in the moonlight on the hill” (Wilde, 80). However, it is said “mortals should stay at home and never dare to look on them” (Wilde, 80).

One such gives caution, states:

“It is esteemed a very wrong thing amongst the islanders to be about on November Eve, minding any business, for the fairies have their flitting then, and do not like to be seen or watched; and all the spirits come to meet them and help them. But mortal people should keep at home, or they will suffer for it; for the souls of the dead have power over all things on that one night of the year; and they hold a festival with the fairies, and drink red wine from the fairy cups, and dance to fairy music till the moon goes down” (Wilde, 78).

Being the 21st century staying home no longer applies! Kids, after carving their Jack-O’-the-Lantern into a frightful face, dress up to trick-or-treat and adults, also in costume, go off to parties to celebrate and bob for apples. Ever wonder how the Jack-O’-the-Lantern came to be? Or how apples and Halloween became a famous couple?

An Irish tale from Irish Fireside Stories contains an explanation for the Legend of the Jack o the Lantern. After having been excluded from heaven and having tricked the devil making Hell refuse to take him, it was decreed that Jack would walk the Earth with a lantern to light him on his nightly way until Judgement Day.

As for apples and Halloween, an old Celtic ritual has an explanation:

“The first day of November was dedicated to the spirit of fruits and seeds, from which, no doubt, originated the custom of eating nuts and apples on Hallow Eve. It was called La-mas-abhal, the day of apple fruit. This word, pronounced Lamabhool, was corrupted by English settlers into lamb’swool, which name was given to a drink made of apples, sugar and ale. So the apples are still eaten on All-Hallow’s Eve by the merry company in the farmhouse kitchen in Ireland, and the young Irish girls will peel one carefully, taking care to keep the skin whole, which, when cast over the shoulder upon the floor, will fall into the form of the initial letter of her future husband’s name. Or she will take nuts piled so plentifully upon the table and burn them on the grate-bar or the hearth and try to read her future in their ashes, while her companions are setting nuts in pairs together in the same place, naming them carefully, and watching to see whether they will burn pleasantly together or jump apart” (Blennerhassett, 233-234).

The article continues to mention further steps to be taken over the course of finding out information about one’s future husband and the role of apples in this process but as with all love fortune telling, spells, and the like, it is a lengthy process that requires far too much effort and too much typing for one blog post on a day of festivities. So, I’ll leave it here and wish you all a Happy Halloween!

Good luck bobbing for apples! And remember all spells cast on November Eve come true.

 

Reference

Blennerhassett, Sarah (1899 November). All-Hallow’s Eve. The Gael.

Wilde, & Wilde, W. R. (1919). Ancient legends, mystic charms & superstitions of ireland : with sketches of the irish past. Chatto & Windus.

For the online version, click here. Please note they may not be exactly the same.

The Thomas and Margaret Melady papers: a Window to Africa of the ’60s and ’70s.

Thomas and Margaret Melady papers
Thomas and Margaret Melady papers, Mss 0072

Ambassador Thomas P. and Dr. Margaret B. Melady have been involved in diplomatic and international affairs since the 1950s, particularly on the continent of Africa. Ambassador Melady has held multiple diplomatic posts for the United States, including Ambassador to Burundi, Ambassador to Uganda, and Ambassador to the Holy See, and is the new Interim Dean of the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations here at Seton Hall University. Dr. Melady is an alumnus of Seton Hall, a former President of the American University in Rome, and is now the President of Melady Associates, a firm specializing in public affairs and educational counseling. The couple have written multiple books on politics in Africa, including Ten African Heroes: The Sweep of Independence in Black Africa, published in 2011.

The correspondence and personal papers that formed the core of the research for that book are a part of a new archival collection held at the Archives and Special Collections Center, the Thomas and Margaret Melady papers, 1959-2010 (bulk 1960-1975). The collection is the gift of Ambassador and Dr. Melady, and documents their involvement with many of the individuals responsible for the vast political changes that took place over the whole continent of Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to the ten men featured in the book, who feature prominently in the collection, there are letters from dozens of other individuals and organizations, photographs, and newsclippings documenting that turbulent time.

Thomas Melady first went to Africa in the 1950s while working for the Foreign Service. He and Margaret Badum married in 1961, and the couple spent a great deal of their time in Africa throughout the 1960s and 1970s, deeply involved in diplomatic and political events all over the continent.  Thomas Melady also started the Africa Service Institute, an organization dedicated to the education and advancement of students and leaders in Africa. The materials in the Thomas and Margaret Melady papers cover 36 nations and areas from Angola to Zimbabwe, and cover a range of topics from the intensely personal to the course of nations. Correspondents include political leaders, such as Léopold Sédar Senghor, William V.S. Tubman, and Kenneth David Kaunda; Catholic officials such as Archbishop Jean Zoa of Yaoundé and Archbishop Luc-Auguste Sangare of Bamako; fellow diplomats from and to the United States or the United Nations; students, academics, priests, and many others. Topics include political events in Africa and the United States, the role of racism in politics of the day, requests for assistance from the Africa Service Institute, personal notes of thanks and updates, and a wide variety of conversational subjects.

This rich collection was described in detail by the Meladys before coming to the Archives, and that original description forms the majority of the finding aid. While no materials from the collection have yet been digitized, the entire original collection is available at the Archives and Special Collections Center, on the first floor of Walsh Library. Please see our Hours page to find Hours and Directions, or Contact Us to make an appointment.

The book Ten African Heroes is also available in the Archives and Special Collections Center.

NJCHC Spring 2013 Conference Announcement…

Have You Ever Wanted to Learn More About What Goes into Making a Book and Meet Local Authors in the Process? Then We Have a Program for You!

Please join the New Jersey Catholic Historical Commission and friends on Saturday, April 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Motherhouse located on the campus of Caldwell College, located in Caldwell, New Jersey for a conference entitled…

“The Art of the Printed Word – Historical Book Creation, From Prayer to Preparation to Publication.”

This program will serve as a showcase the recent publication of Catholic history oriented books, periodicals, and other print resources, but is also designed to show each the steps that go into making a book from idea, research options, the importance of writing and how to achieve a finished product. Speakers will present short talks on their work and will also welcome questions in relation to their expertise.  Noted authors including Father Augustine Curley, Carl Ganz, Father Michael Krull, Monsignor Raymond Kupke, Sister Margherita Marchione, Tom McCabe, Brian Regan, Greg Tobin, and others will be present to talk about their experiences and tell you more about the publication process. A major portion of this day will also be devoted for those interested in sharing their own research and interact with the speakers in more depth.

Those doing any type of publishing whether it be institutional and/or parish histories, articles, newsletters, and other specialized volumes are encouraged to attend.

Registration is now open. The cost for the day is $20.00 (students $10.00) per person and this includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and conference materials. You can register at the door, but advance notice is appreciated. To reserve a space and/or for more information please contact Alan DeLozier via e-mail: Alan.Delozier@shu.edu, or by phone at: (973) 275-2378.