Ukrainian Halloween or Veles night
Ukrainians have been celebrating Halloween for many centuries. According to the legend, on the night of October, 31 to November, 1 the souls of all the dead come to the earth and roam the streets. Some Ukrainians treat this celebration extremely negatively, claiming that this holiday is "alien”. However, only the name is borrowed, because Ukrainians used to have their own Halloween. It existed during the time of believing in pagan gods and was called the Veles night (in honor of one of the pagan deities). Veles night was celebrated the same day and marked the time when the souls of all the dead descended to the ground.
Who was Veles?
Veles was a pre-Christian pagan god. He was considered the god of art, music, poetry, beauty, talent, happiness and love. He was the patron of all creative people, magicians, diviners and clairvoyants. He was also the guardian of all living beings. It was believed that it was he who was responsible for the flowering of the human soul.
Also, Veles was considered a patron of cattle. They believed that it was he who taught people to coexist with nature: cultivate land, grow corn, graze livestock, and take milk. He taught not to kill the animal, but to learn to take care of it and to take sheared fur or milk from it. According to beliefs Veles was a god of wealth. So, our ancestors honored him as much as Perun, and treated him with respect to the traditions of the Veles night.
Folk omens of the day
On the night of November, 1 it was customary to revise good things about the deceased relatives. Lighting a candle on this night would help their soul find the way to your home. It was traditionally to leave a treat outside in the street or on the windowsill for the guests from spiritual world. The greatest luck was supposed to see some deceased relatives in a dream on this night.
Veles night rites and divination
1. Veles night is a mysterious time, so people believed that their wishes could be fulfilled this night. They wrote them on a piece of paper and put it under the pillow before bedtime saying the words: "A dark night, I curse you to help me. Veles, work hard and give me what I desire."
2. In order to find out whether your spouse is true to you or not, you had to take his/her wedding ring, put it on the thread and hang it. If it stands in place - then the fidelity is invincible.
3. The ritual for prosperity was also quite popular. People had to collect all the trifle in a purse and give it to the poor saying prior "Let my money help everyone who needs them. Let them turn around and return to me with abundance".
4. Our ancestors also believed that this night you could get answers to the most difficult questions. To do this, one had to name the deceased relative and appeal to him: "Today you come to this world to advise me. Tell me how to complete the task."
The intended brides on this night divined about the betrothed but these rites are kept secret.
Signs on Veles night
Usually, seeing a dead relative in a dream was considered a bad sign. On Veles night it was opposite - a very good sign.
It was recommended not to lend money on the eve of the day, otherwise you would carry out abundance from the house. The whole next year would bring a difficult financial state for those who neglect this.
Despite the popular concept of a black cat being a bad omen, this day a black dog would be an even worse sign. Such a dog near the house meant that an enemy would soon appear and would spoil the life of the family. On the contrary, seeing a white dog near the house meant that a new friend would come soon.
The most ancient ancestors had a tradition to light the fireplace at the very high point of their land and to jump over the fire. Also, walking on hot coal symbolized purification of the body and soul of evil spirits.
Also in the evening before the Veles night people used to arrange a silent dinner. They laid the table for themselves and for the deceased relatives whom they would like to invite to the meal. During the evening they revised good things about them.
Roots of the holiday
The name Halloween has taken root from the English holiday. It was translated as "the night of all saints." In fact, this is the night of all the dead which was an original name in Christian times. This is due to the fact that the pagans were not afraid of death and met it calmly. On the contrary Christians perceived the death with fear and condemned communication with the other world. Therefore, tradition and name changed over time.
In every case, regardless of how differently religions treat to this holiday, there is nothing wrong with remembering the ancestors and honoring them on the night when they come from the other world.
Now you know how different is the attitude to the holiday of different people: some play pranks and have fun while the others revise their dead ancestors and divine. How do you like to celebrate this holiday? :) I would be glad to know your ideas in comments to the article!