*throws scary confetti*
HAPPY COFFIN HOP!
That’s right, all the fun we’ve been hinting at is finally getting underway. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since signing up for Coffin Hop, it’s that Halloween is sacrosanct. So very much so, in fact, that one day out of the year doesn’t satisfy us (yes, I’m including myself). We need an entire week devoted to Halloween and the things that go bump in the night.
I have absolutely no problem with this, because in the novels that I write, the things that go bump in the night have been around a lot longer than that. They’ve been around since the days when Halloween was still called Samhain.
What’s that? You don’t know where Halloween came from? Well, let me tell you.
Halloween got its start as Samhain (pronounced sow-een), the Celtic festival that marked the beginning of the year and the shift to winter. It was at this time that animals were brought down from the summer pastures and slaughtered if need be. Crops were harvested and the Celts feasted… with a seat at the table for their dead kinfolk. You see, Samhain was also one of the times of the year when the borders between this world and the next were at their thinnest. The dead were free to roam the earth and the living had no control over it. So, you might get your aunt Orla sitting at the table with you, finally sharing that recipe she swore to take to the grave, or you might get the angry, bitter young man one of your guests murdered, seeking vengeance. You just never knew!
And the dead weren’t all that walked the earth, oh no. Despite the mythical Fae forebears, the Tuatha Dé Danann, having been driven underground long ago by the conquering Milesians, they were permitted to walk unfettered amongst humans on Samhain. The people learned not to draw the ire of the Fae folk, for Samhain was the night where they could be carried off into the faery hills, to live forever without ever seeing their family again. The people carried salt or iron to ward them off, carried carved lanterns with the three-fold purpose of sight, representing the spirits that may have been afoot, and protecting themselves from them. People continued to leave out gifts of food and drink for the wandering dead and even began dressing like the dead themselves.
Sound familiar? It should. Most of the customs observed at Samhain have since trickled down to become part of Halloween, the holiday that we know now as a result of Christianity’s attempts to remove the pagan aspect of the festival. First came All Saints Day, and then came All Hallows Eve, then Hallow Evening, and finally the word we now recognize: Hallowe’en or Halloween.
Now, with all those travelling dead and roaming faeries… Who’s to say some of them didn’t stay? How do we know some of them aren’t still here and hiding from us in plain sight?
Well, we don’t. At least, most of us don’t. Should you wind up as a character in one of my books, chances are you’ll find out pretty quickly that you should still be wary of Oíche Shamhna—Samhain night. Because just like those days of old, you don’t know if you’re going to get the nice benefactor or the vengeful hate-filled wretch.
. . . . *pause*
Let’s face it… the nice benefactor would make for a boring story, which is why that’s completely not the angle my books take. Curious? Good. Let’s get to those gifts and such I’ll be leaving for all my wandering dead—er, I mean, readers. You’re all obviously very alive.
Gift number one, to be bequeathed according to the will of the pagan gods (by which I mean random selection), will be the utterly fabulous Coffin Hop 2013: Death by Drive-In Collector’s EP! It’s a tantalizing taste of the fully horrific anthology to come in September of 2013, which will include stories by Amy K. Marshall, Jessica McHugh, Jason Darrick, and Erik Gustafson, all of whom are either appearing on this blog or featuring little ol’ me on their blogs at some point during this hop! If that doesn’t vouch for them, what does?
Again pandering to the pagan deities (*cough* random selection), gift number two is… well, gift number two is a surprise. But it gives you a sneak peek at some of those roaming Fae I mentioned, and the humans who get a little stuck in their world. If you’ve been curious about The Sharpest Lives, winning this little tidbit is a good way to get in on the fun before anyone else!
And all you have to do to win either of these? Comment below. Yup, that’s it. At the end of a week’s mad hopping, I’m going to be choosing names at random to see who gets what (that should be a big fat hint that I’m not the only one giving things away… wink wink, nudge nudge). And guess what? Leave your Twitter handle in the comments too, and if I see that you’re following me, you’ll get an extra entry into the draw!
Everybody ready? Put on your best bonfire-leaping boots, and let’s get ready for Samhain—er, I mean, Halloween, right—and hop, hop, hop on out of these coffins!