Penpalling & Letters

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Celebration of the harvesting time: Samhain

Once more a new post featuring Travelling around the World sharing Cultural Heritage, Folklore and Background is online on Penpalling & Letters! We are stopping at south-western Europe in this occasion, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Neighbouring countries are France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. The two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, belong to this land. Its capital city was the political and religious centre of Western civilisation and also the capital of the Roman Empire. It is also the cradly of the Renaissance, a very important intellectual movement in the development of Europe some centuries ago. Have you already guessed we have just landed in Italy this time to meet a penpaller called Silvia?

Ciao Silvia! Welcome to Penpalling & Letters! It is great you are sharing your time with us today! Would you like to tell us a bit about you and the place you live as well as your letter-writing experiences?

Ciao from Italy everyone! I am Silvia, a 32-year-old vegan witch from the green lands of Tuscany in Italy! ;) I will always thank my English teacher at school who introduced me to penpalling through IYS-International Youth Service when I was 12 years old. Years passed by and I lost all of my penpals and (shame on me!) I forgot about penpalling for many years - until three years ago when, during a very difficult moment in my life, I was sitting on my chair and wondered if penpals still existed in the Internet era! What a big surprise when I found out penpalling is still quite popular!! I have almost never spent a day without writing a letter (or part of it!) since then!
I have always liked postcards, too, but never really collected them! I am a member of Postcrossing, but I don't consider myself a postcard collector in any way! I don't care where the postcards come from, I don't look for specific countries... What I like of postcards is that they are little coloured thoughts that come to your mailbox to bring a smile to your day!
Are there people into penpalling who are not interested in stationery, pens, stickers...?! :) As you can guess, I love cute stationery and I always try to make my letters as cute as possible with loads of stickers and deco-tape!
I like collecting faeries figurines. You can spot them in any corner of my house! I also like to swap postcards, bookmarks, lettersets and other small items. I used to swap magnets as well, but now my fridge door is made of wood so... :)
At the moment I am not looking for new penpals. I have already sixteen and it is enough for me. I like to handwrite long letters and I usually reply to letters within a week... so I couldn't handle more penpals!

Most people call it Halloween, some others call it Samhain. Most people consider it a special chance they have once a year to wear scary masks and indulge themselves in their darkest side (but just for fun!) for a single wild night; some others consider it like one of the most special and magical nights of the year.
If you have always considered Halloween to be nothing but a business born in the USA or a children-only thing, I am here to give you a different point of view!

Samhain is the Gaelic/Celtic name of this very ancient harvest festival (the last one of the year and thus, really important for the life of the ancient people who lived mainly on agriculture) held on October 31th – November 1st and it is still celebrated nowadays by the (neo)Pagan community worldwide. Being myself Italian and Pagan, I try to reconnect to the most ancient (read: pre-Christian) traditions of my own country, that's why I call it Calenda. But no matter how you name it, we are still talking of the most magical night of the year.

During this night, the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest and people have always been really aware of the wandering souls, both the good and the evil ones, trying to "socialize" with them: that's why they used to offer their ancestors' souls some warm wine and food and put small lanterns next to doors and windows to show them their way home and they also wore scary masks (probably not as fancy as the ones we wear today, but they made their job nevertheless!) and created scary figures to keep away the evil spirits. Can you see how similar it all sounds to what we all know as Halloween nowadays?

So, enjoy your special scary night and keep in mind that your ancestors celebrated it (almost) like you are doing today! Feel the connection with the past and spend a few moments remembering your beloved ones who passed away.
Carve your scariest pumpkins and put them outside so that all the evil spirits will take their distance from your house; eat warm and delicious seasonal food (don't forget to add some cinnamon!); make an extra cup of hot cider and leave it on your window together with a couple of cookies and a small lantern just in case some wandering souls belonging to your family need to find some rest, and if you want to get rid of anything in your life write it on a piece of paper and burn it.

Are you wondering how Samhain/Calenda is related to All Saints? As everyone in ancient times celebrated their beloved ones passed away on this night, during the VIII century, the Pope by then moved the Christian celebration of All Saints from May 13th to November 1st so that people didn't have to get used to a new tradition!

In Italian "trick or treat" sounds like "dolcetto o scherzetto": What about your own language?

Thanks for taking part in Penpalling & Letters, Silvia! It was really interesting to read how you celebrate Samhain at your corner and your feelings, thoughts and ideas about it!

If you are interested in reading more articles featuring anything related to our homelands don't forget to check: Travelling around the World sharing Cultural Heritage, Folklore and Background.

I am always looking for people who would like to take part into this section of the Blog: Travelling around the World. If you would like to write about your homeland don't hesitate to contact me at: penpallingandletters[at]gmail[dot]com and we will work on it!

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