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The telling of ghost stories and viewing of horror films are common fixtures of Halloween parties. Episodes of TV series and specials with Halloween themes with the specials usually aimed at children are commonly aired on or before the holiday, while new horror films, are often released theatrically before the holiday to take advantage of the atmosphere.

Haunted attractions are entertainment venues designed to thrill and scare patrons; most are seasonal Halloween businesses. Origins of these paid scare venues are difficult to pinpoint, but it is generally accepted that they were first commonly used by the Junior Chamber International Jaycees for fundraising. They include haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides and the level of sophistication of the effects has risen as the industry has grown.

This increase in interest has led to more highly technical special effects and costuming that is comparable with that in Hollywood films. Because the holiday comes in the wake of the annual apple harvest, candy apples also known as toffee, caramel or taffy apples are a common Halloween treat made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, sometimes followed by rolling them in nuts.

At one time, candy apples were commonly given to children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples. While there is evidence of such incidents, they are quite rare and have never resulted in serious injury. Nonetheless, many parents assumed that such heinous practices were rampant. At the peak of the hysteria, some hospitals offered free x-rays of children's Halloween hauls in order to find evidence of tampering.

Virtually all of the few known candy poisoning incidents involved parents who poisoned their own children's candy, and there have been occasional reports of children putting needles in their own and other children's candy in need of a bit of attention. It is said that those who get a ring will find their true love in the ensuing year. This is similar to the tradition of king cake at the festival of Epiphany. Other foods associated with the holiday:. Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly.

Celebration in the United States has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations. The history of Halloween traditions in a given country also lends context to how it is presently celebrated. In North America, Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. Celtic Christians may have Samhain services that focus on the cultural aspects of the holiday, in the belief that many ancient Celtic customs are "incompatible with the new Christian religion.

Christianity embraced the Celtic notions of family, community, the bond among all people, and respect for the dead. Throughout the centuries, Pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry hodgepodge of celebrations from October 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.

Many Christians ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a purely secular holiday devoted to celebrating "imaginary spooks" and handing out candy. Halloween celebrations are common among Roman Catholic parochial schools throughout North America and in Ireland. Father Gabriele Amorth, a Vatican-appointed exorcist in Rome, has said, "If English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem.

If it is just a game, there is no harm in that. Other Christians, primarily of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist variety, are concerned about Halloween, and reject the holiday because they believe it trivializes and celebrates "the occult" and what they perceive as evil. A response among some fundamentalists in recent years has been the use of Hell houses or themed pamphlets such as those of Jack T. Chick which attempt to make use of Halloween as an opportunity for evangelism.

Some consider Halloween to be completely incompatible with the Christian faith due to its origin as a Pagan "Festival of the Dead. Many contemporary Protestant churches view Halloween as a fun event for children, holding events in their churches where children and their parents can dress up, play games, and get candy. Religions other than Christianity also have varied views on Halloween. Some Wiccans feel that the tradition is offensive to "real witches" for promoting stereotypical caricatures of "wicked witches".

All Saints' Day also called All Hallows or Hallowmas , often shortened to All Saints, is a feast celebrated on November 1 in Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity in honour of all the saints, known and unknown.

In terms of Western Christian theology, the feast commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven. Specifically, in the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls' Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.

His wife, Empress Theophano - commemorated on December 16—lived a devout life. After her death, her husband built a church, intending to dedicate it to her. When he was forbidden to do so, he decided to dedicate it to "All Saints," so that if his wife were in fact one of the righteous, she would also be honored whenever the feast was celebrated. According to tradition, it was Leo who expanded the feast from a commemoration of All Martyrs to a general commemoration of All Saints, whether martyrs or not.

This Sunday marks the close of the Paschal season. To the normal Sunday services are added special scriptural readings and hymns to all the saints known and unknown from the Pentecostarion. The third Sunday after Pentecost may be observed for even more localized saints, such as "All Saints of St. Petersburg", or for saints of a particular type, such as "New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke. The origin of the festival of All Saints as celebrated in the West dates to May 13, or , when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since.

The chosen day, May 13th, was a Pagan observation of great antiquity, the culmination of three days of the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated.

Liturgiologists of the Middle Ages based the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme of "all the dead". Peter's for the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world", with the day moved to November 1. This usually fell within a few weeks of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to that of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival.

The Irish, whose holiday Samhain had been, did not celebrate All Hallows Day on this November 1 date, as extant historical documents attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring: A November festival of all the saints was already widely celebrated on November 1 in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in , by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued "at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops", which confirmed its celebration on November 1st.

The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV — The festival was retained after the Reformation in the calendar of the Anglican Church and in many Lutheran churches. In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance takes place on the Saturday between October 31st and November 6th. In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November.

It is held, not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those that have died from the local church congregation. A candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person's name is called out. Then, a liturgical prayer is offered for each soul in Heaven.

In Portugal and Spain, ofrendas offerings are made on this day. In Spain, the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed. This day and the one before and one after it is spent visiting the graves of deceased relatives, where prayers and flowers are offered, candles are lit and the graves themselves are cleaned, repaired and repainted.

Day of the Dead Spanish: The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday.

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones.

Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures. The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,—3, years.

In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month.

The festivities were dedicated to the god known as the "Lady of the Dead", corresponding to the modern Catrina. In most regions of Mexico, November 1st honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2nd. People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed.

The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed. Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead.

These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings. Toys are brought for dead children los angelitos, or "the little angels" , and bottles of tequila, mezcal or pulque or jars of atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto "bread of the dead" , and sugar skulls and beverages such as atole.

The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased. Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the "spiritual essence" of the ofrendas food, so even though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so that the deceased can rest after their long journey. In many places, people have picnics at the grave site as well.

Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes; these usually have the Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of deceased relatives and other persons, scores of candles and an ofrenda. Traditionally, families spend some time around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing, so that when they dance, the noise will wake up the dead; some will also dress up as the deceased.

Public schools at all levels build altars with ofrendas, usually omitting the religious symbols. Government offices usually have at least a small altar, as this holiday is seen as important to the Mexican heritage.

Those with a distinctive talent for writing sometimes create short poems, called calaveras "skulls" , mocking epitaphs of friends, describing interesting habits and attitudes or funny anecdotes. This custom originated in the 18th or 19th century, after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future, "and all of us were dead", proceeding to "read" the tombstones.

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull colloquially called calavera , which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas colloquial term for "skeleton" , and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead.

Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones. Posada's striking image of a costumed female with a skeleton face has become associated with the Day of the Dead, and Catrina figures often are a prominent part of modern Day of the Dead observances.

The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal and often vary from town to town. On November 1 of the year after a child's death, the godparents set a table in the parents' home with sweets, fruits, pan de muerto, a cross, a rosary used to ask the Virgin Mary to pray for them and candles.

This is meant to celebrate the child's life, in respect and appreciation for the parents. There is also dancing with colorful costumes, often with skull-shaped masks and devil masks in the plaza or garden of the town.

At midnight on November 2, the people light candles and ride winged boats called mariposas Spanish for "butterflies" to Janitzio, an island in the middle of the lake where there is a cemetery, to honor and celebrate the lives of the dead there.

In contrast, the town of Ocotepec, north of Cuernavaca in the State of Morelos, opens its doors to visitors in exchange for veladoras small wax candles to show respect for the recently deceased.

In return, the visitors receive tamales and atole. This is only done by the owners of the house where somebody in the household has died in the previous year. In some parts of the country especially the cities, where in recent years there are displaced other customs , children in costumes roam the streets, knocking on people's doors for a calaverita, a small gift of candies or money; they also ask passersby for it. This custom is similar to that of Halloween's trick-or-treating and is relatively recent.

Some people believe that possessing Day of the Dead items can bring good luck. Many people get tattoos or have dolls of the dead to carry with them. They also clean their houses and prepare the favorite dishes of their deceased loved ones to place upon their altar or ofrenda. In many United States communities with Mexican residents, Day of the Dead celebrations are held that are very similar to those held in Mexico.

In some of these communities, such as in Texas and Arizona, the celebrations tend to be mostly traditional. For example, the All Souls Procession has been an annual Tucson event since The event combines elements of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations with those of pagan harvest festivals. People wearing masks carry signs honoring the dead and an urn in which people can place slips of paper with prayers on them to be burned. In other communities, interactions between Mexican traditions and American culture are resulting in celebrations in which Mexican traditions are being extended to make artistic or sometimes political statements.

An updated, inter-cultural version of the Day of the Dead is also evolving at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There, in a mixture of Mexican traditions and Hollywood hip, conventional altars are set up side-by-side with altars to Jayne Mansfield and Johnny Ramone. Colorful native dancers and music intermix with performance artists, while sly pranksters play on traditional themes. Oakland is home to Corazon Del Pueblo in the Fruitvale district.

Corazon Del Pueblo has a shop offering handcrafted Mexican gifts and a museum devoted to Day of the Dead artifacts. In Missoula, Montana, skeletal celebrants on stilts, novelty bicycles, and skis parade through town. People bring offerings of flowers, photos, mementos, and food for their departed loved ones, which they place at an elaborately and colorfully decorated altar. A program of traditional music and dance also accompanies the community event.

Guatemalan celebrations of the Day of the Dead are highlighted by the construction and flying of giant kites in addition to the traditional visits to grave sites of ancestors. A big event also is the consumption of fiambre, which is made only for this day during the year.

In Ecuador, the Day of the Dead is observed to some extent by all parts of society, though it is especially important to the indigenous Kichwa peoples who make up an estimated quarter of the population. Indigena families gather together in the community cemetery with offerings of food for a day-long remembrance of their ancestors and lost loved ones. Ceremonial foods include colada morada, a spiced fruit porridge that derives its deep purple color from the Andean blackberry and purple maize.

This is typically consumed with guagua de pan, a bread shaped like a swaddled infant, though variations include many pigs—the latter being traditional to the city of Loja. The bread, which is wheat flour-based today but was made with cornmeal in the pre-Columbian era, can be made savory with cheese inside or sweet with a filling of guava paste.

These traditions have permeated into mainstream society as well, where food establishments add both colada morada and gaugua de pan to their menus for the season. Many non-indigenous Ecuadorians partake in visiting the graves of the deceased and preparing the traditional foods as well.

Similar to other Day of the Dead celebrations, people go to cemeteries and churches with flowers, candles, and prayer. The celebration is intended to be positive to celebrate those who are deceased. In Haiti, voodoo traditions mix with Roman Catholic observances as, for example, loud drums and music are played at all-night celebrations at cemeteries to waken Baron Samedi, the Loa of the dead, and his mischievous family of offspring, the Gede.

In pre-Columbian times, indigenous Andeans had a tradition of sharing a day with the bones of their ancestors on the third year after burial; however, only the skulls are used today. Traditionally, the skull of one or more family members are kept at home to watch over the family and protect them during the year. On November 9th, the family crowns the skull with fresh flowers, sometimes also dressing it up in various garments, and makes offerings of cigarettes, coca leaves, alcohol, and various other items in thanks for the year's protection.

The skulls are also sometimes taken to the central cemetery in La Paz for a special Mass and blessing. In many countries with a Roman Catholic heritage, All Saints Day and All Souls Day have long been holidays in which people take the day off work, go to cemeteries with candles and flowers, and give presents to children, usually sweets and toys.

In Portugal and Spain, ofrendas "offerings" are made on this day. In Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Ireland, people bring flowers to the graves of dead relatives and say prayers over the dead. In Tyrol, cakes are left for them on the table, and the room kept warm for their comfort.

In Brittany, people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones and to anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, the supper is left on the table for the souls. Local citizens join in a celebration of the Day of the Dead put on by a theatre group with masks, candles, and sugar skulls.

The traditions were imported during the Philippines' Spanish colonial era. Tombs are cleaned or repainted, candles are lit, and flowers are offered. Entire families camp in cemeteries and sometimes spend a night or two near their relatives' tombs. Card games, eating, drinking, singing and dancing are common activities in the cemetery.

It is considered a very important holiday by many Filipinos after Christmas and Holy Week , and additional days are normally given as special non-working holidays but only November 1 is a regular holiday. Mexican-style Day of the Dead celebrations can also be found in Wellington, New Zealand, complete with altars celebrating the deceased with flowers and gifts.

Many other cultures around the world have similar traditions of a day set aside to visit the graves of deceased family members. Often included in these traditions are celebrations, food and beverages, in addition to prayers and remembrances of the departed. In Korea, Chuseok is a major traditional holiday, also called Hangawi. People go where the spirits of one's ancestors are enshrined and perform ancestral worship rituals early in the morning; they visit the tombs of immediate ancestors to trim plants, clean the area around the tomb, and offer food, drink, and crops to their ancestors.

The Ching Ming Festival is a traditional Chinese festival usually occurring around April 5th of the Gregorian calendar. Along with Double Ninth Festival on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar, it is a time to tend to the graves of departed ones. In addition, in the Chinese tradition, the seventh month in the Chinese calendar is called the Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits come out from the underworld to visit earth.

During the Nepali holiday of Gai Jatra "Cow Pilgrimage" , every family who has lost a family member during the previous year makes a construction of bamboo branches, cloth, paper decorations and portraits of the deceased, called a gai.

Traditionally, a cow leads the spirits of the dead into the next land. Depending on local custom, either an actual live cow or a construct representing a cow may be used. The festival is also a time to dress up in costume, including costumes involving political comments and satire. In some cultures in Africa, visits to the graves of ancestors, the leaving of food and gifts, and the asking of protection serve as important parts of traditional rituals. One example of this is the ritual that occurs just before the beginning of hunting season.

In some tribes of the Amazon, they believe that the dead return as flowers rather than butterflies. Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Because of the longstanding traditions of the holiday, the celebration often extends to the weekend that falls closest to the day it is celebrated.

Thanksgiving in North America had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community.

At the time, Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season. When Europeans first arrived to the Americas, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest.

Though the origins of the holiday in both Canada and the United States are similar, Americans do not typically celebrate the contributions made in Newfoundland, while Canadians do not celebrate the contributions made in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The origin of the first Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to the explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher's Thanksgiving celebration was not for harvest, but in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs.

On his third and final voyage to these regions in Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Frobisher Bay in Baffin Island in present Day Nunavut to give thanks to God and in a service ministered by the preacher Robert Wolfall they celebrated Communion, the first ever service in these regions.

Years later, the tradition of a feast would continue as more settlers began to arrive to the Canadian colonies.

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving can also be traced to the French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century, who also took to celebrating their successful harvests. The French settlers in the area typically had feasts at the end of the harvest season and continued throughout the winter season, even sharing their food with the indigenous peoples of the area.

Champlain had also proposed for the creation of the Order of Good Cheer in As many more settlers arrived in Canada, more celebrations of good harvest became common. New immigrants into the country, such as the Irish, Scottish and Germans, would also add their own traditions to the harvest celebrations. Most of the U. In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. There is also evidence for an earlier harvest celebration on the continent by Spanish explorers in Florida during , as well as thanksgiving feasts in the Virginia Colony.

The initial thanksgiving observance at Virginia in was prompted by the colonists' leaders on the anniversary of the settlement. The Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. In later years, the tradition was continued by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in While initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed half of the colonists, the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the Pilgrims by providing seeds and teaching them to fish.

The practice of holding an annual harvest festival like this did not become a regular affair in New England until the late s. According to historian Jeremy Bangs, director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, the Pilgrims may have been influenced by watching the annual services of Thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in , while they were staying in Leiden.

The claim of where the first Thanksgiving was held in the United States, and even the Americas has often been a subject of debate. Author and teacher Robyn Gioia and Michael Gannon, of the University of Florida, have argued that the earliest attested "Thanksgiving" celebration in what is now the United States was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8, , in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida.

Similarly, many historians point out that the first thanksgiving celebration in the United States was held in Virginia, and not in Plymouth.

Thanksgiving services were routine in what was to become the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as The reason for the earlier Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada has often been attributed to the earlier onset of winter in the north, thus ending the harvest season earlier. Thanksgiving in Canada did not have a fixed date until the late 19th century. Prior to Canadian confederation, many of the individual colonial governors of the Canadian provinces had declared their own days of Thanksgiving.

The first official Canadian Thanksgiving occurred on April 15, when the nation was celebrating the Prince of Wales' recovery from a serious illness. By the end of the 19th Century, Thanksgiving Day was normally celebrated on November 6. To prevent the two holidays from clashing with one another, in the Canadian Parliament proclaimed Thanksgiving to be observed on its present date on the second Monday of October.

Thanksgiving in the United States, much like in Canada, was observed on various dates throughout history. The dates of Thanksgiving in the era of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln had been decided by each state on various dates. The first Thanksgiving celebrated on the same date by all states was in by presidential proclamation. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date of Thanksgiving in most U. And so, in an effort by President Abraham Lincoln influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale who wrote letters to politicans for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday , to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states, proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November.

It was not until December 26, , that the unified date changed to the fourth Thursday and not always final in November -this time by federal legislation. Roosevelt, after two years earlier offering his own proclamation to move the date earlier, with the reason of giving the country an economic boost, agreed to sign a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday on the fourth not final Thursday in November. Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day Canadian French: Although the original act of Parliament references God and the holiday is celebrated in churches, the holiday is mostly celebrated in a secular manner.

Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in all provinces in Canada, except for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. While businesses may remain open in these provinces, the holiday is nonetheless, recognized and celebrated regardless of its status.

In the West Indian island of Grenada, there is a national holiday known as Thanksgiving Day which is celebrated on October Even though it bears the same name, and is celebrated at roughly the same time as the American and Canadian versions of Thanksgiving, this holiday is unrelated to either of those celebrations.

Instead the holiday marks the anniversary of the U. Many of the Pilgrims who migrated to the Plymouth Plantation had resided in the city of Leiden from —, many of whom had recorded their birth, marriages and deaths at the Pieterskerk.

To commemorate this, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day service is held each year on the morning of the American Thanksgiving Day in the Pieterskerk, a Gothic church in Leiden, to commemorate the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World. This means the Norfolk Island observance is the day before or six days after the United States' observance.

The holiday was brought to the island by visiting American whaling ships. Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in , has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Historically, Thanksgiving began as a tradition of celebrating the harvest of the year. Andrew's Day is the feast day of Saint Andrew. It is celebrated on November 30th. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew's Day Scottish Gaelic: Latha Naomh Anndra is Scotland's official national day. In , the Scottish Parliament designated St. Andrew's Day as an official bank holiday. In Germany, the feast day is celebrated as Andreasnacht "St.

Andrew's Night" , in Austria with the custom of Andreasgebet "St. Andrew's Prayer" , and in Poland as Andrzejki "Andrews". If 30 November falls on a weekend, the next Monday is a bank holiday instead.

The notion that the day should be an official bank holiday was first proposed by Dennis Canavan, Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament for Falkirk West in However, the Bill he introduced to the Parliament was initially rejected as the Executive did not support it. A compromise deal was reached whereby the holiday would not be an additional entitlement. Then First Minister, Jack McConnell, stated that he believed that employers and employees should mark the day with a holiday, but that this should be as a substitute for an existing local holiday, rather than an additional one.

Although it is a bank holiday, banks are not required to close and employers are not required to give their employees the day off as a holiday. St Andrew's Day is an official flag day in Scotland. The Scottish Government's flag-flying regulations state that the Flag of Scotland The Saltire shall fly on all its buildings with a flagpole. The Union Flag is also flown if the building has more than one flagpole. The arrangements for the United Kingdom Government in Scotland are the opposite.

They fly the Union Flag, and will only fly the Saltire if there is more than one flagpole. The flying of the Saltire on St Andrew's Day is a recent development. This led to Members of the Scottish Parliament complaining that Scotland was the only country in the world that could not fly its national flag on its national day. The regulations were updated to state that the Union Flag would be removed and replaced by the Saltire on buildings with only one flagpole.

However, the Union Flag is flown by the British Army at the Castle as it still is an official British Army flag flying station, and all Army installations fly the Union Flag at ratio 3: The British Army has been criticised for refusing to fly the Saltire above Edinburgh Castle, but dropping the Union Flag in its recruitment campaigns in Scotland instead preferring the Saltire, a decision branded hypocritical by SNP politicians.

The University of St Andrews gives the day for all the students as a free holiday. Andrew's Day is specially suitable for magic that reveals a young woman's future husband or that binds a future husband to her. Many related customs exist: In some areas in Austria, young women would drink wine and then perform a spell, called Andreasgebet Saint Andrew's prayer , while nude and kicking a straw bed.

This was supposed to magically attract the future husband. Yet another custom is to throw a clog over one's shoulder: In some parts of the Czech Republic and Slovakia , young women would write down the names of potential husbands on little pieces of paper and stick these into little pieces of dough, called Halusky. When cooked, the first one to float to the surface of the water would reveal the name of their future husband. In Poland, some women put pieces of paper on which they have written potential husbands under the pillow and first thing in the morning they take one out, which allegedly reveals their future husband.

In Romania, it is customary for young women to put 41 grains of wheat beneath their pillow before they go to sleep, and if they dream that someone is coming to steal their grains that means that they are going to get married next year. Also in some other parts of the country the young women light a candle from the Easter and bring it, at midnight, to a fountain. Andrew to let them glimpse their future husband.

Andrew is also the national saint of Romanians and Romanian Orthodox Church. As the patron saint of Barbados, Saint Andrew is celebrated in a number of Barbadian symbols including the cross formation of the Coat of Arms, and the nation's national honours system which styles persons as Knights or Dames of St. Yule or Yule-tide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples as a Pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas.

The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar.

The festival was placed on December 25th when the Christian Julian calendar was adopted. Some historians claim that the celebration is connected to the Wild Hunt or was influenced by Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival. Terms etymological equivalent to "Yule" are still used in the Nordic Countries for both the Christian Christmas, but also other religious holidays of the season. In modern times this has gradually lead to a more secular tradition under the same name as Christmas. Yule is also used in a lesser extent in English speaking countries to refer to Christmas.

In modern times, Yule is observed as a cultural festival and also with religious rites by some Christians and by some Neopagans. This word is also the root of the English word "jolly.

This theory may be more based on similarities between the words jul and hjul with a mute h in modern Scandinavian languages, than on older cognates or historical sources. Yule is attested early in the history of the Germanic peoples; from the 4th century Gothic language it appears in the month name fuma jiuleis.

About AD , the English historian Bede wrote that the Anglo-Saxon calendar included the months geola or giuli corresponding with either modern December or December and January. He gave December 25 as the first day of the heathen year and wrote that the Anglo-Saxons celebrated all night long to honor the Germanic divine "mothers":.

One of the names provided is "Yule-beings. Ynglinga saga, the first book of Heimskringla, first mentions a Yule feast in After , it is the main feast of the year. The saga states that when Haakon arrived in Norway he was confirmed a Christian, but since the land was still altogether heathen and they retained their practices, Haakon hid his Christianity to receive the help of "great chieftains".

In time, Haakon had a law passed that established that Yule celebrations were to take place at the same time as when the Christians held their celebrations, "and at that time everyone was to have ale for the celebration with a measure of grain, or else pay fines, and had to keep the holiday while the ale lasted. Yule had previously been celebrated on midwinter night for three nights, according to the saga. Haakon planned that when he had solidly established himself and held power over the whole country, he would then "have the gospel preached.

Haakon spent most of this time in Trondheim, Norway. When Haakon figured that he wielded enough power, he requested a bishop and other priests from England, and they came to Norway. Upon their arrival, "Haakon made it known that he would have the gospel preached in the whole country. A description of heathen Yule practices is provided notes are Hollander's own:. It was ancient custom that when sacrifice was to be made, all farmers were to come to the heathen temple and bring along with them the food they needed while the feast lasted.

At this feast all were to take part of the drinking of ale. Also all kinds of livestock were killed in connection with it, horses also; and all the blood from them was called hlaut [sacrificial blood], and hlautbolli, the vessel holding the blood; and hlautteinar, the sacrificial twigs [aspergills]. These were fashioned like sprinklers, and with them were to be smeared all over with blood the pedestals of the idols and also the walls of the temple within and without; and likewise the men present were to be sprinkled with blood.

But the meat of the animals was to be boiled and served as food at the banquet. Fires were to be lighted in the middle of the temple floor, and kettles hung over them. The sacrificial beaker was to be borne around the fire, and he who made the feast and was chieftain, was to bless the beaker as well as all the sacrificial meat.

The narrative continues that toasts were to be drunk. In addition, toasts were drunk to the memory of departed kinsfolk. This toast was called "minni [memorial toast]".

The Grettis Saga refers to Yule as a time of "greatest mirth and joyance among men. Yule was an indigenous midwinter festival celebrated by the Germanic peoples, which was progressively absorbed into the Christian observations surrounding Christmas.

Simek says that Odin was associated with Yule, and that the tradition of the Wild Hunt undoubtedly contributed to the association of the two. According to Simek "it is uncertain whether the Germanic Yule feast still had a function in the cult of the dead and in the veneration of the ancestors, a function which the mid-winter sacrifice certainly held for the West European Stone and Bronze Ages.

Specific dating is problematic. The time of Yule falls within around the time of a month that corresponds with the end of the modern calendar year. Andy Orchard says that "in practice, it is difficult to specify the yule-tide period more accurately than at some point between about mid-November and the beginning of January. An elaborate dinner is eaten with the family, consisting of roast pork, roast duck or roast goose with potatoes, red cabbage and gravy. For dessert is rice pudding with a cherry sauce, traditionally with an almond hidden inside.

The lucky finder of this almond is entitled to a small gift. Then the children often hand out the presents which are opened immediately. On the eve of the Finnish Joulu, children are visited by Joulupukki, a character similar to Santa Claus. The word Joulupukki means "Yule Goat" and probably derives from an old Finnish tradition where people called nuuttipukkis dressed in goat hides circulated in homes after Joulu, eating leftover food.

Joulupukki visits people's homes and rides a sleigh pulled by a number of reindeer. He knocks on the front door during Jouluaatto, rather than sneaking in through the chimney at night. Presents are given and opened immediately.

He usually wears red, warm clothes and often carries a wooden walking stick. He is married to Joulumuori tr. Typical Finnish yule dishes include ham, various root vegetable casseroles, beetroot salad, gingerbread and star-shaped plum-filled pastries. Other traditions with a non-Christian yule background include joulukuusi "Yule spruce" and joulusauna "yule sauna". Usually celebrated the same way how the Finnish people do it. Is a thousands of years old holiday to celebrate the winter solstice.

It is a custom to eat hamborgarhryggur smoked pork loin or rock ptarmigan. The first one comes to town from the mountains December 11 and the last one arrives 13 days later on December Children leave their shoe in the window and the Yule Lads leave something in the shoe when they arrive in town. If the children are naughty they might get a potato but if they are nice they might get something good, like candy, an apple or a toy.

The Yule Lads all carry a specific name that describes his actions. For instance, the sixth one is Pot-Scraper and what he does best is to scrape leftovers from pots. December 26 is generally reserved for family gatherings. It involves a lot of eating with relatives, usually with cousins and aunts and uncles. The main Yule event for Norwegians is on julaften "Yule Eve" or "Christmas Eve" on December 24, when the main feast is served and gifts are exchanged.

As a continuation of older customs, some set out a bowl of porridge to the nisse on the 24th. Earlier in December many gather for a julebord "Yule table", where people from workplaces or organizations get together to eat traditional dishes and often drink alcoholic beverages before Yule.

In the period between the 24th and New Year's Eve, children dress up in costumes and visit neighbours, where they sing Yuletide carols and receive candy, nuts and clementines. This tradition is called "to go julebukk".

In the Shetland Islands of Scotland the Yules are considered to last a month beginning on December 18 and ending January The main Yules celebration occurs on December The rest of Scotland eventually adopted "Hogmanay" the name of the New Years presents as the name for the festival.

As in many other countries in northern Europe Jultomten brings presents on julafton "Yule Eve" , December 24, the day generally thought of as the main jul day. The julbord is traditionally served with beer, julmust, mumma a mix of beer, liquor and svagdricka and snaps. The dishes vary throughout the country.

Businesses invite staff to a julbord dinner or lunch in preceding weeks, and people go privately to restaurants offering julbord during December. Gifts are distributed either by Jultomten usually from a sack or from under the Christmas tree. The following day some people attend a julotta and even more venture to the movies, as December 25 is a day of big premieres.

As forms of Neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary considerably despite the shared name. Some celebrate in a way as close as possible to how they believe Ancient Germanic Pagans observed the tradition, while others observe the holiday with rituals culled from numerous other unrelated sources including Germanic. In Germanic Neopagan sects, Yule is celebrated with gatherings that often involve a meal and gift giving.

Further attempts at reconstruction of surviving accounts of historical celebrations are often made, a hallmark being variations of the traditional.

Groups such as the Asatru Folk Assembly in the US recognize the celebration as lasting 12 days, beginning on the date of the winter solstice. In most forms of Wicca, this holiday is celebrated at the winter solstice as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun.

The method of gathering for this sabbat varies by practitioner. Some have private ceremonies at home, while others do so with their covens. The winter solstice occurs at the instant when the Sun's position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance on the other side of the equatorial plane from the observer's hemisphere. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs some time between December 21 and December 22 each year in the northern hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 21 in the southern hemisphere, during either the shortest day or longest night of the year.

Though the winter solstice lasts an instant, the term is also colloquially used like "midwinter" to refer to the full hour period of the day on which it occurs. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

The word solstice derives from Latin sol sun and sistere to stand still. Bruma , the difference between the calendar year Yearly, in the Gregorian calendar the solstice still fluctuates slightly, but in the long term, only about one day every years. How cultures interpret the solstice is varied, since it is sometimes said to astronomically mark either the beginning or middle of a hemisphere's winter.

Winter is a subjective term, so there is no scientifically established beginning or middle of winter but the winter solstice itself is clearly calculated to within a second.

For Celtic countries, such as Ireland, the calendarical winter season has traditionally begun November 1 on All Hallows or Samhain.

Winter ends and spring begins on Imbolc or Candlemas, which is February 1 or 2. This calendar system of seasons may be based on the length of days exclusively. Most East Asian cultures define the seasons by solar terms, with Dong zhi at the winter solstice as the middle or "extreme" of winter.

This system is based on the Sun's apparent height above the horizon at noon. And many European solar calendar midwinter celebrations still centre upon the night of December 24 leading into the December 25 in the north, which was considered to be the winter solstice upon the establishment of the Julian calendar.

In the Jewish Talmud, the day of the winter solstice, is recorded as the first day of the "stripping time" or winter season. Persian culture also recognizes it as the beginning of winter. Due to the Earth's elliptical orbit and axial tilt, neither the earliest sunset nor the latest sunrise fall exactly on the winter solstice.

The earliest sunset occurs earlier than the solstice by a few days , and the latest sunrise later. For one or two weeks surrounding both solstices, both sunrise and sunset get slightly later or earlier each day.

Even on the equator, sunrise and sunset shift several minutes back and forth through the year, along with solar noon. This effect is plotted by an analemma. The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen.

This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites such as Stonehenge in Britain and New Grange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise New Grange and the winter solstice sunset Stonehenge.

Significant in respect of Stonehenge is the fact that the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i. The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months.

Starvation was common in winter between January and April, also known as the famine months. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.

The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized day, which falls on the previous eve. Since the event is seen as the reversal of the Sun's ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures using winter solstitially based cyclic calendars, the year as reborn has been celebrated with regard to life-death-rebirth deities or new beginnings such as Hogmanay's redding, a New Years cleaning tradition.

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