The picture above is from a couple of days ago when it was still sunny and not cold. Today is overcast, wet and damp: perfect weather for the March of the Sugar Crazed Zombies.
Halloween is my favorite holiday. It appeals to my heathen Celtic roots when they got naked, painted themselves blue and white, and frightened the be-jeezus out of the Romans. It became a time-honored tradition right up until now, although we’ve put away our broadswords and taken up candy bags.
Don’t be fooled. There is still a crazed, blue and white, Celt child lurking just beneath the $6.00 plastic Iron Man mask.
A Few Fun Facts About the Dead
Do you know why a dead body is taken from the house feet first?
Because it orients the corpse’s eyes away from where it is coming from and towards where it is going. In that way, the ghost won’t be able to find its way back home. And you thought it might have something to do with dropping the body on its head.
Did you know that there were special roads for carrying corpses to the church and graveyard?
These ancient paths, called lich or spirit roads, ran all over medieval Europe. People were very careful to build their structures away from the lich roads for fear that roaming spirits might enter their homes. These roads led up to churches and through special lich gates into the graveyard, at one time called lich fields, and to a special door into the church. How did the departed get to the church? They were carried feet first of course.
What’s A Dead Ringer?
One of the greatest fears was that you might be buried alive, which wasn’t as silly as it might sound. Because graveyards were often used and reused, it wasn’t unheard of for the gravedigger to unearth older burials while digging a new one. Thus they discovered evidence of folks buried alive. To prevent this, people began attaching a string to the hand of the deceased and ran it to a bell above ground. For a few nights after a burial, a lamp would be lit by the bell and grave and it was responsibility of the graveyard caretaker to stay up all night and listen for any bells. If he heard a bell, it was a Dead Ringer.
When Did People Start Burying The Dead?
The number varies but it is safe to say that the first intentional burial, implying a belief in an afterlife, occurred about 100,000 years ago. It was performed by our cousins the Neanderthals. They included tools and artifacts with the dead who was buried in a fetal position. There is a chance that it actually began 350,000 years ago with Homo heidelbergensis, the progenitor of Humans and Neanderthals. Flowers were first included in burials about 13,000 years ago. Thus there is evidence that we and our ancestors have believed in some form of afterlife for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years.
Time to Party
Many cultures and faiths believe that there is a specific time when the veil between the living and dead becomes very thin and it is possible to temporarily crossover. For Christians that is this evening and the following couple of nights. For many this is a time of celebration and reconnecting with those that have passed over.