Sunday, 21 October 2012

Halloween- Origins and Traditions

Halloween: Origins and Traditions

Halloween (Hallowe’en , also known as Hallowmas, All Hallows, and Hallowtide) is an annual holiday that is observed on October 31. It derives its name from the Christian calendar and occurs the day before All Saints’ or All Hallows’ Day.  Some scholars however claim that the All Hallows’ Eve’s tradition initially was incorporated from pagan harvest festivals and festivals honoring the dead, particularly the Celtic Samhain. 
Samhain (derived from an old Irish word Samuin, meaning “summer’s end”) falling on the last day of autumn, was a time for stock-taking and preparation for the harsh, cold winter months ahead.  According to the ancient Celts’ calendar, this was the last night of the old year and at this time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were the closest, all manner of magical things could manifest.  For one thing the souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on Samahain eve, while witches, hobgoblins, warlocks and other evil entities walked abroad and devoted themselves to wicked revels.  To defend against these wayward evil spirits, the Gaels would built huge, symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice. In the Western Isles of Scotland the Slaugh, or fairy host was composed of the souls of the dead flying through the air, and the feast of the dead at Hallowe’en was also the festival of the fairies.   But the good fairies, too, according to some folklore, made their appearance at this time from dusk until midnight.
Later on Halloween was heavily influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day which, falling on November 1 and 2, were a time for honouring the saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach Heaven.  In 837 Pope Gregory IV ordered the church-wide observance; by the end of 12th century this became the holy days of obligation across Europe, incorporating such traditions as the ringing of bells for the souls in purgatory and “souling”.   “Souling” is when the poor folk or, later replaced by costumed children, carry lanterns made out of scooped out turnips and go from go door to door on Hallowmas, Nov 1, receiving food or coins in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls ‘Day, which is on Nov 2. There was also the custom of baking bread or sour cakes for “all christened souls. 

Another scary belief held that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day and All Hallows’Eve, providing the vengeful spirits a last chance for revenge before moving onto the next world.  Christians therefore took to disguising themselves and, by wearing masks and costumes and following the lighted candles set by others to guide their travel for worship the next day, avoided any repercussions from these rancorous souls. In this day and age, this custom has been perpetuated   by the children donning disguises and going out trick or treating.  It is interesting to note that this “trick or treating” actually dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing, resembled the late medieval practice in Scotland and Ireland’s ‘guising. Costumed children visited each house asking for treats, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to a, mostly idle, “threat” to visit mischief or harm on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. 
The ‘guising participants traditionally modelled their costumes after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils, which over time incorporated popular characters from fiction, celebrities or generic archetypes such as batman, superman, ninjas and princesses.
The Carving of jack-o-lanterns meanwhile has been derived from the Samhain custom of carving turnips into lanterns to light the way of the souls held in purgatory.
In North America the Puritans of New England had strong opposition to this holiday, so it was not observed until the 19th century when the influx of Irish and Scottish immigrants reintroduced it. At first it was confined to immigrant communities but, by and by, it has became a widespread celebration by all social, racial and religious backgrounds in North America and elsewhere.  Today the Halloween imagery includes themes of evil, the occult, death and mythical monsters. Black and orange are the traditional colors now.  Meanwhile the jack-o-lantern custom of carving the turnip has evolved into a carved pumpkin that is far softer and much larger.

Halloween has always been considered a particularly auspicious occasion for supernatural experiments and games. Some observe the religious rites such as praying, fasting and attending vigils or church services.  Others indulge in carving pumpkins, decorating house with ghoulish images to scare the trick and treating children and conducting party games such as apple bobbing. There is, of course, a whole host of other fun activities, that include young and old, such as visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories and watching horror films. Here are few more mentioned below:
“Bobbing” for Apples- No Halloween is complete without an “apple bob.” Each member of the party is given an apple from which a small piece has been cut and into which a fortune written on a slip of paper has been inserted. The apples are thrown into a large tub of water and the company invited to duck their heads and retrieve an apple with their mouths. From the apple they draw out the slip of paper and read their fortune. These fortunes, which must be brief, will be of greater interest if they deal with affairs of love such as “Your husband will be masterful and handsome”. 
Few, mainly college and university students, partake in the old Celtic custom that includes lighting great bonfires on Halloween and, after these had burned out, make a circle of the ashes of each fire. Within this circle, and near the circumference, each member of the various groups that had helped to make a fire would place a pebble. If, on the next day, any stone was out of its place, or had been damaged, it was held to be an indication that the one to whom the stone belonged would die within twelve months. Such a morbid superstition, however, does not find much favour in modern times, and those manifestations which are connected with affairs of the heart are more popularly sought after on the Eve of All Hallows. Here are some of the spells that may be cast by college students in dorms, for fun sake, only on Halloween.
To See Your Future Spouse- Retire into a dark room with one lit candle as the only means of illumination. Place the candle in front of a mirror and peer into the glass. At the same time, you must either be eating an apple or combing your hair. After a few moments it is said that the face of the man whom you will wed will appear over your shoulder.
There is an old country superstition which decrees that if a girl should eat a salted herring just before she goes to bed her future spouse will appear to her in a dream carrying a cup of water with which to quench her thirst.
A similar test may be made with three saucers. One is filled with clear water, another with ink or muddy water, while the third is left empty. A girl or boy who wishes to know their fortune is blindfolded and led toward the table with their left hand outstretched.   They then told to touch one of the saucers.  Should the participant touch the saucer containing the clear water he or she will soon be married to a beautiful girl or a handsome boy.  If on the other hand he or she touches the saucer containing the ink or muddy water their future spouse will be a widower. If it so happens that they touch the empty saucer it is an indication that they are unlikely to ever marry.  (Remember folks this is only a guessing game… No one can truly predict the future. )
According to custom mashed potatoes is the correct dish for Halloween, and they also offer us a method of divining which member of the company will be the first to wed. Into the heap of mashed potatoes a ring, a low domination coin, a button, a heart- shaped -charm, a shell and a key are inserted.  Then all the lights in the room are turned out and each guest, armed with a spoon or fork endeavours to find the hidden charms. The one who finds the ring will marry first; the coin signifies wealth; the button brings bachelorhood, or spinsterhood; the heart, passionate love; the shell, long journeys; the key, great success and power.
To ascertain if your lover is true: On Halloween select one of the notes which you have received from your sweetheart, especially one which contains a particularly passionate and important declaration; lay it wide open upon a table and then fold it nine times. Pin the folds together, lace the letter in your left-hand glove, and slip it under your pillow. If on that night you dream of silver, gems, glass, castles or clear water, your love is true and his declarations are genuine; if you dream of linen, storms, fire wood, flowers or that he is saluting you, he is false and has been deceiving you.
To find whether Lover will be Happy?... Well, there is a game-spell for that also:
A group of friends sit around an open fire and a boy, selecting the girl of his choice, invites her to place a nut in the glowing embers; he, too, does likewise. If the burning nuts merely glow or smoulder, then the respective couple who place them there, are suited for one another, and will enjoy  a good relationship  in perfect harmony and love. But if the nuts should burst, or crackle loudly, or fly apart, then beware, for it portends that the boy and the girl will have a stormy relationship, their temperaments not being in synch, they will quarrel excessively.

Have fun on Halloween.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Bed of Roses

A Red, Red Rose

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.
Robert Burns

The End

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Feng Shui Kitchen

Feng Shui Kitchen

A kitchen is a place where our daily food is prepared and shared. It is a cosy gathering place for the family members and fulfills that intrinsic need for nourishment.
Here are some helpful Feng Shui hints to consider:
  • When remodeling a kitchen, add more cooking appliances to increase prosperity. 
  • Clean the stove top and burners in your kitchen frequently. During normal usage avoid getting your stove dirty or encrusted with spill-over food from the cooking. A clean and properly working stove invites an abundance of food and prosperity into your household.
  • If your stove is on an island or peninsula and lacks a wall behind it, place a glazed ceramic vase or a pitcher on the counter behind it.
  • It is important to keep the kitchen garbage can out of sight.
  • Make sure you store all the cleaning supplies out of sight as well, so that they don’t “clean out” your beneficial energy of prosperity and abundance.
  • Don’t place a dragon figurine in your kitchen.  Traditionally, Dragon figures at the base of the plate represented due restraint. It’s supposed to warn you against over indulgence of food.
  • Don’t place a fish tank in the kitchen, as the pumping water symbolizes the departure of wealth from the family.
  • Don’t store kitchen knives in plain sight, in a holder or a wall-mount magnetic strip, however convenient;   to do so it cuts prosperity and severs the harmony of the family unit. It would be better, when they are not in use, to place them in a kitchen drawer or a cabinet.
  • Finally, tuck a red envelope with three Chinese coins under the bottom of the rice, flour or pasta container and potato bin. This brings abundance and wealth.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Feng Shui Bathroom

Feng Shui Bathroom

One of the Feng  Shui  guidelines  is that if you can’t see it, it is not metaphysically there. This means you can block, cover, bury, hide, deflect, reflect or use any other means to correct bad Feng Shui in your home or bathroom.
Here are some helpful hints:
  • Don’t redesign your home, townhouse or condo to add a bath or powder room that sticks out past your front door since the yin of the bathroom clashes with the yang entering the house.   The front door is the main access for beneficial ch’i into your home and this flow could be interrupted by the bad energy from the bathroom.  Remember also to always keep the bathroom door closed, especially when the front door is open.
  • If you are remodelling your house don’t have the stairs leading directly towards the bathroom door or the main entrance door of your home.  
  • To minimize the loss of ch’i energy in the bathroom and to prevent losing money you must keep the lavatory lid down every time you flush. 
  • Avoid placing a mirror opposite the bathroom door since the incoming ch’i will be reflected right back.
  • The bathroom door should not open directly onto the lavatory or bath, as this robs you of your need for privacy and protection.  If you have ample room position a screen or panel in the space between the door and the toilet.
  • Adequate ventilation is important to prevent the build-up of negative (sha) energy.  Dampness or mildew contributes to stagnant, negative ch’i.  One way to avoid this, especially if you don’t have a window, is to keep a few plants in your bathroom to absorb the excess moisture.
  • You can also lose wealth if you have leaky taps or leave the water running so, if the plumbing in your house is faulty, fix it as soon as possible.
  • Make sure there is no waste blocking the sink and that the waste basket is emptied frequently.
  • It is not good to have the kitchen directly facing a bathroom.  Nor is it good to have a bathroom or shower located in the corner of your main bedroom, as this will siphon your health, luck and prosperity. The remedy is to have a divider or door that is kept closed at all times.
  • Do not choose a house with a bathroom located in the center.  The most important room such as a living room, family room or a dining room should be in this spot.  If the bathroom is at the centre of the home, there is possibility that sha ch’i will easily travel to all the surrounding rooms.  You may somewhat remedy this bad circumstance by using  accessories made of earth materials, such as clay, terra cotta, and porcelain to anchor your wealth.
  • Rice is a symbol of abundance, wealth, and fertility. Never flush this revered food down the sink or toilet. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving Day is mainly celebrated in Canada and United States.  In Canada where the temperature become colder sooner and the harvest comes before that of the United States the celebrations are held on the second Monday of October, whereas in the United States Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
Historically this holiday had its roots in religious cultural traditions as prayers of thanks and their corresponding ceremonies are the norm among many religions after the harvest.  Today, however, it is primarily celebrated as a secular holiday. It is considered a statutory holiday in all provinces except for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Despite their businesses being open, many Maritime citizens join in on the celebrations regardless.

Here’s an account of brief History of Thanksgiving from Wikipedia:

“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 was in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs. In 1578, on his third and final voyage to these regions, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Frobisher Bay in Baffin Island (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 in 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 1606.

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.S. aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey or what were called Guinea fowls originating from Madagascar), were incorporated when United Empire Loyalist began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Feng Shui Bedroom

Feng Shui Bedroom

When you are moving into a new home, apartment or condo, position the master bed during the most yang hours of the day- which is 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. 
Sleeping is a yin activity so choose yin designs elements: soft textures, curving shapes, and mellow lighting for your bedroom.  In the evening draw your curtains, blinds, or drapes to create a more yin environment for resting and sleeping. Here are few helpful Feng Shui tips to keep in mind when decorating the bedroom:
  • Look up at a room’s ceiling before positioning a bed. Putting a bed under exposed beams can press down on a sleeper’s vital chi energy, causing health problems.  It’s best to cover exposed ceiling beams in a bedroom with draped fabric or dry wall to create a flat ceiling.
  • A rafter that runs in the same direction as a couple’s bed below is believed to cause a division between them.
  • Best to have a headboard on your bed as it provides support to your crown chakra. 
  • Don’t place the bed with its foot facing the door of the room, as this makes for a very bad luck.
  • Avoid having any electrical outlet on the wall close behind you or next to your pillow.
  • It is not good to face a mirror or T.V. when you are sleeping otherwise your vital life energy (Chi) will be siphoned as you sleep.  If this cannot be avoided, simply cover any mirror or TV screen with a cloth or better still have them located in a large cabinet that can be closed.
  • Avoid sleeping in a bed that is located under a skylight, as it will draw healthy chi away from you.  
  • The bed should not be positioned against the short wall of the room with a sloping ceiling.
  • It’s best to sleep in bedrooms that are above the ground rather than in a basement as healthful yang energy is abundant in the light and air.  If you are sleeping in a bedroom above a garage however, place a red cloth between the mattress and box spring for your protection.
  • A Phoenix figure in a bedroom will add sparks to an existing relationship that has stagnated; however, don’t use a phoenix to activate romance in your life if you already have an emotionally happy and physically satisfying relationship with someone special. To do so may cause infidelity.
  • Remove all dead or dried flowers and plants from your bedroom (and garden), as they are believed to kill your love and sex life.  
  • Don’t keep an aquarium in a bedroom, especially the master bedroom, as it symbolizes money luck being pumped out of the owner’s possession.
  • Do place a symbol of wealth in your bedroom so that you see it on waking. This could be a figurine of a carp, an ox sitting on Chinese coins, or a turtle.
  • And finally, do open your drapes and curtains first thing in the morning. This allows the light to infuse its yang energy into you for the day’s activities. 

  If we do not have a general air-condition and are using ceiling fans to cool us while we sleep in these hot summer nights, keep in mind to install your ceiling fans beyond the foot of the bed in a bedroom. They will cool the room without harming the health of the occupants.

Good luck and good night to you all.