Preparations for Halloween began back in September. These were on display in Gorhams:
Just about every organisation seems to be putting on some form of party or event.
Bermuda National Trust have an evening of Ghost Stories told by John Cox who is described as ‘Bermuda’s favourite ghost whisperer‘ http://www.bnt.bm/documents/GhostStoryFlyerQ42013.pdf
I had the pleasure of meeting John at Verdmont last week – he is reassuringly normal, no baleful stare or spine-chilling handshake, at least not then in the middle of the day. You can hear one of his real ghost stories on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwgEiw_t3NQ where he talks about his own home and the family ghost Mary, but for the Verdmont ghosts you will have to go to the talk on Thursday. I am not sure I want to know – I have to open up and close up when it is very dark inside and it is creepy enough without thinking about apparitions. The first time I was in the nursery there I scared myself as I brushed against the cradle, setting it rocking with a rhythmic tap on the floorboards – or was it me?
The local newspaper boasts article headings such as
“Will your pet look scary for Halloween?”
” A friendly mansion? Don’t be fooled…be scared, very scared”
and the more down to earth one
“Residents balk at price of trick-or-treat candy”
(I did buy some, but we have eaten it, the mellow-creme-pumpkin sweets are particularly addictive)
I was brought up in England and during my childhood Halloween was a minor event, less celebrated than Bonfire Night and possibly slightly frowned upon in my standard CeeofEE family. It is, after all, based on a pagan festival to do with magic charms, faeries and spirits. For my own children we went along with some dressing up and visiting immediate neighbours for trick-or-treat but not the full-fat-American-style Halloween that appears to take place here on Bermuda.
Dressing up is apparently to fool or scare the evil spirits
And the treats are to appease the faeries, who are, apparently, angels who won’t commit to either God or the devil and so are condemned to walk the earth until judgement day.
The story behind pumpkin lanterns seems to relate to an Irish scoundrel called Jack who trapped a devil in a tree. He only let the devil go when it was promised to him that he, Jack, would never go to hell. But when he died he didn’t make the grade for heaven either and so was given a turnip lantern to help find his way back to Ireland – he is still searching.
So the Christian Church set up “All Saints Day” on 1st November, the day after Halloween. Do you remember that really long hymn we sang at school assemblies For All The Saints ?
Eleven verses, each ending with an un-singable Alleluia, Alleluia, one of those hymns more ancient than modern.
I think through this hymn I confused Saints with Knights, but then St George was usually depicted as a knight in armour. St George is honoured here in Bermuda – confusingly being the name of a town, an island and a parish, all at the far eastern end of the island. That was where they first settled back in 1609 (the wreck of the Sea Venture) and 1612 (first colonists to arrive on the Plough). It is a really pretty town with quite a lot for visitors to see, deserving a whole section of its own.
Some Saints have their own days for commemoration; of course St Georges Day in England is celebrated on 23rd April, the day on which the Roman soldier George of Lydda was executed for his Christian beliefs. I was surprised to find out that there are several different lists of Saints and George does not appear on the Eastern Orthodox Calendar even though their art depicts the familiar George and the Dragon images. That he usurped Edward The Confessor as England’s Patron Saint as late as 1552 is probably part of the reason that the town, island and parish were named after him on Bermuda, not all that long afterwards.
Well, I need to go and buy some more treats, just in case so will leave you with more images of Halloween on Bermuda: