A note to the reader: Never has it been so evident that history can sometimes be murky and difficult to wade through than during my quest to discover the roots of Christmas caroling! Different sources give different information, conflicting dates, and varying histories.
Ordinarily I would not open with a disclaimer. But, under the circumstances, if the reader were to look up this information on their own, they might find answers different than what I’ve written here. So, I will endeavor to weed through it all and give my own assessment of the material. And, I will try to be clear about where my information came from by citing all sources. - Carolyn
Hello and welcome to the Archivist's Corner! This is a column dedicated to sharing interesting pieces of history that have buried in the archives of time.
For this installment I bring you some Halloween related treasures from the past three centuries. I hope you enjoy these antique slices of history as much as I do. ~ Carolyn
Ye Olde Halloween Poetry
"Halloween" by Robert Burns
This is a poem written in 1785 by Scotland's famous poet, Robert Burns, called "Halloween." The version on the right contains notations made by Burns himself, "to enable his readers to understand it, he added valuable notes, explanatory of the charms and spells of this eventful night."
You can read the full poem in original Scots dialect with Burns' notes here on Google Books.
The poem is available in translation to contemporary English here from BBC, where you can also hear an audio recording of the poem.
Halloween is a fun and festive time of year with roots going back to Old World tradition. While some traditions have faded away, others survived and are still practiced today. In the old days, both October 31s and November 1st were considered special days. Often the eve before a holiday was the time for raucous revelry while the next morning was the time for solemn church going. Thus, All Hallows Eve (or evening) became Hallowe’en, and then simply Halloween. Of course we know that before it was All Hallows, the celebration was called Samhain (pronounced sow-en), a Celtic pagan high day. For this edition of The Archivist’s Corner, your archivist has uncovered some antiquated accounts of Celtic Halloween customs for your reading pleasure.