Undernet Halloween special
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Welcome to the Undernet User Committee's Halloween Special.
This is meant to let you know a little bit of the history behind Halloween as
well as get you pumped up for the celebration.
We will talk a little bit about the origin of Halloween in different parts of
the world, then go over the origin of the myth of the vampire.
This should take about fifteen minutes, if things go well. 
This channel will be moderated and invite only, so take the time to jot down the
name of one of the ops in case you cant get back in.
At the end of the 'storytelling', the channel will be unmoderated so you can
discuss costume ideas, Halloween ideas, and basically any Halloween-based
Please ignore the numbers enclosed in brackets at the end of each section, as
they are for op reference. 
--The Origins of Halloween Throughout the World-- 
Celtic: The ancient Celtic (Irish, Scottish, Welsh) festival called Samhain is
considered by many to be a predecessor of our contemporary Halloween.
Samhain was the New Year's Day of the Celts, celebrated on November 1. 
It was also a day of the dead, a time when it was believed that the souls of
those who had died during the year were allowed access to the land of the dead.
It was related to the season: by Samhain, the crops should be harvested and
animals brought in from the distant fields. 
Many traditional beliefs and customs associated with Samhain, most notable that
night was the time of the wandering dead, the practice of leaving
offerings of food and drink to masked and costumed revelers, and the lighting of
bonfires, continued to be practiced on 31 October, known as the Eve of All
the Eve of All Hallows, or Hallow Even. It is the glossing of the name Hallow
Even that has given us the name Hallow e'en. 
The spirits of Samhain, once thought to be wild and powerful, were now said to
be something worse: evil.
The church maintained that the gods and goddesses and other spiritual beings of
traditional religions were diabolical deceptions,
that the spiritual forces that people had experienced were real, but they were
manifestations of the Devil, the Prince of Liars,
who misled people toward the worship of false idols. 
At Samhain, the Norse would slay all the cattle that they did not
believe would survive the winter and offer them to Odin. Odin never ate them so
the Norse did, the Norse were like that. 
Thus, the customs associated with Halloween included representations of ghosts
and human skeletons
-symbols of the dead- and of the devil and other malevolent, evil
creatures, such as witches were said to be. 
England: Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, is celebrated in ways reminiscent of
Guy Fawkes was accused of attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament on that
day in 1605. He was apprehended, hung, drawn, and quartered.
On November 5, 1606, the same Parliament declared the fifth of November a day of
public thanksgiving. 
The act of treason was viewed as part of a 'popish' -that is, Roman Catholic-
plot against the Protestant government.
Because Halloween was associated with the Catholic church calendar, its
but many of its traditions shifted to the annual commemoration of the death of
Guy Fawkes. 
Today, for weeks in advance of November 5, English children
prepare effigies of Fawkes, dummies known as Guys. They set them out on street
corners and beg passers-by for "a penny for the Guy". 
The eve of the fifth is know as Mischief Night, when children are free to play
pranks on adults, just as October 30,
the night before Halloween, is know as Mischief Night in many areas of the U.S.
On the night of November 5,
the Guys are burned in bonfires, just as the ancient Celts burned bonfires on
November 1. 
Germany: Throughout the Western world, May 1, like November 1, is a day of
The 30th of April, the eve of May 1, is in areas of Germany, particularly the
Harz Mountains, Walpurgisnacht, or the eve of St. Walpurgis Day.
Witches are supposed to be especially active this day, as are spirits of the
dead and demon creatures from the nether world. 
China: The care of the dead through prayers and sacrifices were part of a spring
festival of purification and regeneration. 
Japan: Bon festival, dedicated to the spirits of ancestors, for whom special
foods are prepared, occurs during the middle of the summer
(one of the most important festive periods of the year). Three days in
length, it is a time when everyone goes home (reminiscent of the American
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, the first and second of November
are the Days of the Dead - Los Días de los Muertos.
In some regions, the evening of 31 October is the beginning of the Day of the
Dead Children, which is followed on November 1 by the Day of the Dead Adults.
Skeleton figures-candy (sugar skulls), toys, statues and decorations-are seen
everywhere. It is a time for great festivity, with traditional plays and food.
It is a time to play with death and decorating family graves, which is preceded
by religious services and followed by picnics.
The human skeleton or skull is the primary symbol of the day. 
Unlike the American Halloween, in Mexico people build home altars, adorned with
religious icons and special breads and other food for the dead.
The Day of the Dead incorporates recognition of death as a concept with rituals
that remember the deaths of individuals. 
Halloween has become one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals
on the contemporary American calendar,
and it is not even officially a holiday. No day off is given for Halloween, no
federal decree is proclaimed establishing it as a national holiday. People
simply do it. 
--The Myth of the Vampire-- 
The belief in the vampire and ghoul was prevalent even in Babylon and Assyria,
where it was maintained that the dead could appear again upon the earth and seek
sustenance from the living.
The belief is, in all probability, linked up with the almost universal theory
that transfused blood is necessary for revivification.
Baths of human blood were anciently prescribed as a possible remedy for leprosy.
Greek Christianity has been credited by many as the origin of the vampire
The belief was undoubtedly developed greatly under the influence of the Greek
and utilized by the Greek priests as an additional power which they possessed
over the people.
It did not become prominent in Greece until after the establishment of
In Crete, the belief in vampires (or katalkanas) and their
existence and ill-deeds forms a general article of popular belief throughout the
but is particularly strong in the mountains. 
Germany - Nachzehrer 
In some parts of the Kaiser's dominions, food is still buried with the corpse in
order to assuage any pangs of hunger that may arise and even this
is not done, a few grains of corn or rice are scattered upon the grave as a
survival of the ancient custom. 
In Diesdorf, it is believed that if money is not placed in the mouth of a dead
person at burial, or his name not cut from his shirt, he will,
in all probability, become a Nachzehrer, and his ghost issues from the grave in
the form of a pig.
Another sure preventive of such a calamity is to break the neck of a dead body.
Russia - Vrykolaka 
The Hungarians believe that those who have been passive vampires in life become
active vampires after death;
that those whose blood has been sucked in life by vampires become themselves
vampires after death. 
In many districts the belief also prevails that the only way to prevent this
calamity happening is for the threatened victim to eat some earth
from the grave of the attacking vampire, and to smear his own body with blood
from the body of that vampire. 
The vampire tradition in its original loathsomeness, however, is to be found
only in the Bulgarian provinces, where the knowledge of the
superstition was first imported from Dalmatia and Albania. In the former country
the vampire is know by the name of wukodlak. 
St Clair and Brophy state that "the vampire is no longer a dead body
possessed by a demon, but a soul in revolt against the inevitable
principle of corporeal death. He is detected by a hole in the tombstone which is
placed over his grave,
in which the hole is filled up by the medicine man with dirt mixed with
poisonous herbs." 
Vampirism is claimed to be hereditary as well as epidemic and
endemic, and vampires are also stated to be capable of exercising considerable
Stories are told of men who have had their jaws broken, as well as their limbs,
as the result of their struggles with vampires. 
When the Bulgarian vampire has finished his forty days' apprenticeship to the
world of shadows,
he rises from the tomb in bodily form, and is able to pass himself off as a
human being living in the natural manner. 
In Slavonic countries the vieszcy is said to be possessed of only one nostril,
but is credited with possessing a sharp point at the end of his tongue, like the
sting of a bee. 
Plato and Democritus say that souls lived for a certain time close to their dead
bodies, which they sometimes preserved from corruption,
and that they could cause the hair, beard, and nails to grow in their tombs.
The early Christians also believed that the dead could come out of their
sepulchers to make room for more exalted personages, when these were interred
close to them. 
The old witches on broomsticks myth does have basis in fact;
the festival celebrated by medieval witches involved running around with a broom
between their legs, which is where the myth comes from. 
That concludes the storytelling section. We would like to thank the entire
Undernet User-Committee for making this event possible.
This transcript is available at
This script contains long excerpts from University of Tennessee Press and Dudley
Wright's "The Book Of Vampires".
Special thanks to Merielle de Dios for providing these excerpts. Thanks also go
to Tom Fosdick for additional information about Samhain. 
<@LiveEvents> We will now unmoderate the channel for open discussion. On
behalf of the Undernet User Committee, have a great Halloween! =) 
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