Monday, 10 November 2014

Chelsea Pensioner on parade

Chelsea Pensioner by Teresa Thompson of Costume Cavalcade. Teresa makes lovely historically accurate cloth faced costume dolls both in 1/8th and dolls house 1/12th scales. I have quite a few of her creations living in my miniature abodes but this Chelsea Pensioner is most definitely a favourite.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Early Postcard of Ryde Pier

Vintage postcard of Ryde Pier from the early 1900's, not posted.

Ryde Pier on Countryfile

If anyone else has a love of old seaside piers then tonights episode of Countryfile on BBC 1 should be good. The oldest pier left in Britain gets start billing. Ryde pier on the Isle of Wight which was  originally built in 1814 but altered and adapted many times over the years is this year celebrating the 200th anniversary since it's original beginnings.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Taking back the celebration of the Ancestors and tracing the origins of Halloween

The term “Halloween” is a result of Catholic interference with Samhain in the year 609. All Saints Day is a Roman Catholic holiday that honors and remembers all Christian saints both known and unknown. Pope Gregory IV decided to officially move the date of All Saints Day to November 1, the same day as Samhain. All Saints Day is also called “All Hallows” because “hallowed” means sanctified or holy (for those of you who know The Our Father prayer, think of the part “hallowed be thy name.”) The evening before All Hallows was a popular time to celebrate, so the term “All Hallows’ Eve” was used quite a bit. Eventually the term All Hallows’ Eve morphed into Halloween as we know it, and along the way it snatched up and mingled with many of the Samhain traditions that had already been happening for thousands of years.

In the church calendar All Saints Day is followed by All Souls Day which is a solemn holiday that commemorates those that have died, very similar in many respects to the original meanings on commemorating the ancestors that pre date The Christian Halloween Holiday, festivals such as Samhain, Dia de los Muertos or Winternights to name three which are held at or around the same time.

Halloween got taken over by the film and confectionery industry of America in the last few decades and is now often more than not seen as a purely secular commercialized festival, though it was being celebrated as a fun festival as far back as the Victorian period in this country. Much in the same way as Christmas is not celebrated in a religious manner by many people now but often just seen as a festival of merriment.

It's all very well trying to now write the Halloween festival off as being a purely modern American invention but that shows up ignorance about history. Halloween and it's forebears in their original context are in fact some of the oldest festivals celebrated by humans, they weren't about candy or scary films they were a time of remembrance and it was us (The British) who took the original notions of Halloween to America, not vice versa. The USA just took up the holiday and ran with it so to speak.

Most of the Christian festivals are stolen versions of older pagan festivals that were taken over to help with the conversion of the locals. Now that Halloween has been turned into something completely different from it's original meaning some in the Christian church in Britain can't wash their hands of it fast enough.

"Halloween?? oh no that is nothing to do with us, that belongs to those horrible pagans or it is a new thing from the America, no link to our church at all."

Sadly it's not going to wash, Halloween is one of those stolen festivals that has turned around and bitten the church on the bum. The church disproved of Ancestor worship and tried to sanitize and regulate it, only this time the take over didn't go to plan. Wiping out Ancestor worship was hard to achieve in the first place and then in the modern era those pesky Americans took the Halloween holiday under their wing and played about with it.

I like Halloween, I celebrate it as a secular festival, I like the brightness, the colours and it's almost lost but still there if you look hard enough, connections with the ancestors. I like the fun aspects of it and I also have to admit I can't help but be amused by how many Christians squeal and squirm on some of the forums I visit as they try to disassociate themselves from the holiday (does that make me wicked, hehe). Not that I think there is anything wrong in some people not liking this or any other festival, that's a matter of personal choice and what Halloween has become is far removed from it's  original concept. Yet trying to disown any connection at all, does seem to border on the hypocritical when the origins of the name can be traced back.   

Tonight I'm doing a little social tea buffet for some of the oldies in the family and a couple of neighbours who don't like this night and are worried about trick or treaters so they won't be home to be bothered by knocks on the door. I hasten to add they have no evidence to base their fears of trick or traters on other than scare stories that some newspapers like to peddle at this time of year. I'm sure there are a few places where things may have got out of hand on occasion by the exuberance of youth on this mischief night but I can't remember one report of any such occurrence in my own town, but newspapers do like to spin yarn and tales can become overblown in a kind of Chinese whispers way that end up causing some people unnecessary worries on this night. I quite enjoy seeing the young dressed up in their costumes so I'll be there with sweets to welcome any trick or treat children that turn up on my doorstep tonight. Given today's been officially declared the warmest Halloween on record according to the BBC and that the children are off school I'm expecting quite a few to call.

Tomorrow on the 1st of November I'll start my own personal celebration of Winternights, that will be going back to basics of my faith and my ancestors. Personally I look upon Winternights as being from the 1st of November, as I like to separate it from Halloween, until Remembrance Sunday on the 11th of November.  I'll try to document some of the things I do and what the tide means to me. I'll also have a look at a few other similar festivals that happen at this time and have similar meanings with the ancestors still at the forefront.

Happy Halloween Everyone. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

The lights go out 1914 -2014

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime” 
 Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, August 1914

100 years ago tonight 11.00pm the 4th of August 1914 Britain officially declared war and so began the Great War or World War 1 as it was to become known. Today has not been one of celebration but commemoration, a day to reflect on that momentous day and the effect it would have on a whole nation and the world. The British legion has invited everyone in the UK to join in the remembrance being held at Westminster Abbey tonight, by turning out all their lights between 9.00 and 10.00pm leaving just one light or candle lit to mark the moment and to use the hour as a period of reflection.

Virtually no family was left untouched by the war or the great social changes it would bring in it's wake. My own ancestors either joined in the battle, did war work on the home front or in the case of my grandmother a young motherless girl at the time, she was sent to stay with relatives in London and ever after always had vivid reconciliations of hiding in the allotments when the zeppelins flew overhead. Turning our lights off is a small but poignant act of remembrance. A time now beyond living memory but one that should never be forgotten never the less. The Great War brought much change, one of the most chilling being that for the first time war became mechanical and so by default did death, all innocence, as well as a generation of youth, was lost in the carnage that would follow. A view we could not see 100 years ago tonight but now with the benefit of hindsight is all to clear.

Phillip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day—

And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

 We Remember