We’ve just gotten over Halloween, or as it started out, All Hallows Eve, and according to Wikipedia, it’s a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. For many of us, our children and grandchildren experience it as a night for gathering as much candy and other goodies as possible. We used to say “trick or treat”, but nobody ever tricked, at least no one that I can remember. My friends and I didn’t need any sort of holiday or reason to trick someone, and we had some really good ones.
There was the phantom knock on the door and the barricaded street…they were the two most popular because they were the easiest to do with the best results.
The phantom knock on the door went like this…at night you looked for a front door that had a knocker on it. Tie some black fishing line to the door, wind it around a tree and sit on the front steps of a house next to your target. A couple of pulls on the line and the knocker tells the people inside that someone is at the front door…but when they open the door there’s no one there. They close the door and then you repeat the trick…it’s usually good for at least two, and sometimes three times.
The barricaded street was really an illusion, and again it was at night. Two or three kids on each side of the street would wait until a car came along and then they would mimic pulling on some sort of a barricade…like a rope or a cable. The driver would see what he thought was a barricade and come to a screeching halt. Then we all ran away to wait for the next car. Good clean fun and no messy cleanup as might be involved in toilet-papering a tree or a house…and that was just a waste of money too.
Again, from Wikipedia, there’s this…Walpurgis Night is the English translation of Walpurgisnacht, one of the German names for the night of 30 April, so called because it is the eve of the feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Germania. In Germanic folklore Walpurgisnacht, also called Hexennacht literally “Witches’ Night”, is believed to be the night of a witches’ meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe. The first known written occurrence of the English translation “Walpurgis Night” is from the 19th century.
Local variants of Walpurgis Night are observed across Europe in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Estonia. In the United States, Walpurgisnacht is one of the major holidays celebrated within LaVeyan Satanism and is the anniversary of the founding of the Church of Satan.
France has a liberation day, much like our 4th of July, with some similarities. Both of our countries sought to remove themselves from the tyranny of a king. We had George and they had Louis. Bastille Day, symbolizes the end of the constitutional monarchy, and the beginning of the democratic republic of France. There again, both countries went to a republic rather than a democracy and if you don’t know the difference, well, that’s for another time. On July 14, 1789, in France, there was an uprising against the constitutional monarchy. The Bastille was actually a prison, and it was a symbol of the monarchy. The people wanted a reconciliation for all of France, to promote unity, and purse liberty from the monarchy.
As reported in the Huffington Post on April 7th, 2014, Each spring, people flock to Kawasaki, Japan, to celebrate Kanamara Matsuri, aka the “Festival of the Steel Phallus.”
The festival is a celebration of the penis and fertility. People parade gigantic phallic-shaped mikoshi (portable Shinto shrines) down the streets during the event, as revelers suck on penis lollipops, buy penis-themed memorabilia and pose with sculptures in the shape of — you guessed it — penises. According to the BBC, the festival is believed to have roots in the 17th century, when prostitutes are said to have prayed for protection from sexually transmitted infections at Kawasaki’s Kanamara shrine. Today, the festival reportedly raises awareness about safe sex practices and fundraises for HIV prevention.
May 17th, in Norway, is their Constitution Day. The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark/Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. Once again, sort of, it was a move away from a king to a democracy. By historical coincidence, the Second World War ended in Norway nine days before that year’s Constitution Day, on May 8, 1945.
You see, then, that there are happy occasions, occasions of war and remembrance, and some just silly ones. Whatever the reason, a person can always find something to celebrate, somewhere in the world, so enjoy!
Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired, www.AirHumanityRadio.net