Sunday, 9 November 2014

Bonfire Night

Last Wednesday it was Bonfire Night and I went to a fireworks display on Lancing Beach Green. Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night) is a mostly British event  (it is also celebrated in some other countries) where we have fireworks and bonfires. It takes place on or around 5th November. Other countries have similar Bonfire Night celebrations but in the UK ours is known as Guy Fawkes because it originated from Guy Fawkes being stopped from blowing up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605. It was known as the Gunpowder Plot and came about because a group of Catholics were unhappy about the persecution of them by the Protestant king of England James I and planned to assassinate him. The plot was foiled when Guy Fawkes was caught and killed.

In the past people would burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire and kids would go round asking for a "Penny for the Guy". Nowadays Bonfire Night tends to be about having or attending firework displays and celebrating with friends and family but in some places it's still more political, such as the celebrations in Lewes. They have a big event and it would be fun to see but it can be difficult to attend because it's so busy, they shut the roads off for the processions and there are no parking facilities. I always thought they seem to  be trying to put you off going and this year they asked non Lewes residents not to attend. I think that is unfair but I see what they mean about the town not being able to handle large crowds. This year they were planning to burn an effigy of Alex Salmond and Nessie. I thought, "Nooo, not Nessie!" lol. Seriously, I don't really agree with burning either of them and they didn't in the end, which I think was a good thing. :)

For more info on Bonfire Night visit this link: http://www.bonfirenight.net/index.php

The Lancing event was good.. It's usually on a Wednesday and this year it was on Bonfire Night itself. There was a fair there and they provided the fireworks. Here are a few pictures I took:






Monday, 3 November 2014

Hallowe'en/Samhain 2014

Last Friday was Hallowe'en, which is one of my favourite festivals. 31st October is also the Wiccan/Pagan sabbat Samhain and Hallowe'en originated from that.

Samhain (pronunciations include "Sow-in" or "Sow-ain") is the witches' New Year and is the most important of the Major Sabbats. It is the last of the harvest festivals. There are 3 altogether, the others are Lammas and Madron. Samhain means "Summer's End" and it marks the proper onset of winter. While the days have been getting steadily shorter since Madron/the Autumn Equinox in September, we're now really entering into the darkest half of the year. The days will continue to get shorter and the nights longer until Yule (Midwinter/the Winter Solstice) in December. The Sun God "dies" during this time of year but will be reborn at Yule. Samhain is also the time when the veil between this world and the next are at their thinnest (similar to Beltane) and the dead are thought to come back to visit their loved ones.

31st October is New Year's Eve and 1st November is New Years day, so the festival is often celebrated on both days. The old traditions have evolved into modern day Hallowe'en. The practice of lighting a pumpkin is thought to have originated from the pagan ritual of lighting a candle to honour and welcome your ancestors and keep unwanted spirits away.

The colours of Samhain are dark red, purple, black, green and orange. Popular activities include divination and honouring your ancestors by lighting a white candle and setting a place for them at the table. Hallowe'en is very commercial nowadays (more so than when I was child in the 90s even) which is good because it means there are lots of things available in the shops and ideas of things to do. If you are a Wiccan or a pagan (or interested in those both beliefs) you can combine Wiccan/pagan and mainstream traditions but of course you don't have to be one to enjoy Hallowe'en because it's celebrated by lots of different people. :) Trick or treating is a popular activity that many non pagans take part in and people often have parties. I never went trick or treating when I was young because my mum didn't believe in it. (She didn't agree with the idea of knocking on strangers' doors!). If I have children in the future I would like to take them trick or treating.

This year I had some food (buffet type stuff) and drink to celebrate. I like to make a drink called Demon's Blood (I got the recipe from the book The Real Witches' Kitchen by Kate West). You can read more about Demon's Blood in this post: Hallowe'en drinks.

Last year I wasn't able to use green food colouring, so I used red instead. Visit last year's Hallowe'en post to see what it looked like: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/halloweensamhain.html

I bought some new green food colouring in plenty of time this year. I think it looks much better green, lol. Here's a picture of it along with the pumpkin giant cupcake I bought from Asda: