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Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Halloween Superstitions" - Guest Post & Giveaway with Kate Evangelista, author of The Reaper Series

Today, I'm extremely excited to have Kate Evangelista on the blog as part of our Spooktastic Bookish Halloween. Kate is here to share a fascinating post about Halloween Superstitions - which, as you will soon discover for yourself, are incredibly interesting and often scary! I highly recommend reading Kate's post, guys! You'll learn some awesome new things I bet you didn't know before!

I also have the pleasure of hosting an awesome giveaway sponsored by Kate, so be sure to scroll all the way down and enter! :) 

Halloween Superstitions
A Guest Post by Kate Evangelista

            My favorite month out of the year is October, not only because it brings cooler air and golden sunlight. October has my favorite holiday of them all. The time of year when everyone can become someone or something else: Halloween.
            Besides ghosts and everything in the paranormal spectrum of scary, I find myself interested in superstitions. Since I’m participating in a month long Halloween event, I thought to myself why not share some superstitions connected with Halloween?
            So, hold on to your broomsticks, kiddies, you’re in for one interesting ride.

            Halloween is the festival celebrated on October 31st when ghosts roam abroad and witches traditionally hold their Sabbaths. Originally a pagan festival of the dead, Halloween marked the end of the Celtic year. It was said that the sun itself entered the gates of Hell on this date, providing an opportunity for evil spirits to slip out and menace the Earth for forty-eight hours—hence the ominous associations of the modern version of the festival.
Attempts to Christianize the festival by making it the eve of All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day, when Christian saints and martyrs are commemorated, have failed to obliterate its essentially pagan character, emphasized by the now ubiquitous imagery of broomstick-riding witches and grotesque masks fashioned from hollowed-out pumpkins which are meant to scare away demons.
            Halloween is the one time of year when the supernatural holds sway over the Earth, and numerous superstitions are associated with it. These range from protective rituals to keep evil spirits at bay to means of divining what the future has in store.
One of the most widely held notions connected with the festival is the blood-chilling idea that on this date the souls of the dead make their way back to their earthly homes to warm themselves at their old firesides. In many quarters it is thought dangerous to attempt to hinder the dead from returning in this way, and Halloween is generally considered a time when extra care should be taken not to linger in churchyards or do anything that might offend the fairies or other malicious spirits.
If a person is walking down a road, for instance, and hears someone walking close behind it is important that they do not look back because it’s likely to be death himself, and looking into his face will hasten the living person’s own demise.It is also risky to look at one’s own shadow in the moonlight and most inadvisable to go on a hunting expedition on Halloween, as one may accidentally wound a wandering spirit.
Children born on Halloween will, however, enjoy lifelong protection against evil spirits and will also be endowed with the gift of second sight. In rural areas farmers may circle their fields with lighted torches in the belief that doing so will safeguard the following year’s harvest, or else drive their livestock between branches of rowan to keep them safe from evil influences.
Most surviving Halloween superstitions concern the business of foretelling the future, in particular getting a glimpse of a future partner. According to Welsh tradition, anyone going to a crossroads on Halloween and listening carefully to the wind may learn what the next year has in store and, when the church clock strikes midnight, will hear a list of the names of those who are to die in the locality over the next twelve months.
Several of the most widely known Halloween divination rituals relate to apples. Superstitions suggest that, if a girl stands before a mirror while eating an apple and combing her hair at midnight on Halloween, her future husband’s image will be reflected in the glass over her left shoulder. A variant dictates that she must cut the apple into nine pieces. Each must be stuck on the point of a knife and held over the left shoulder. Moreover, if she peels an apple in one long piece, and then tosses the peel over her left shoulder or into a bowl of water, she will be able to read the first initial of her future partner’s name in the shape assumed by the discarded peel. Alternately, the peel is hung on a nail by the front door and the initials of the first man to enter will be the same as those of the unknown lover.
Halloween is also the occasion on which groups of unmarried boys and girls twirl apples on strings over a fire, the order in which the apples fall off the strings indicates the order in which they will be married (the owner of the last apple to drop will remain unmarried).
Yet another Halloween custom is the game of ducking apples: without using their hands, children attempt to take bites out of apples floating in a bowl of water or suspended on a string. Superstition has it that they are fated to marry the owner of the apple they manage to bite. Alternatively the winner of the game takes their apple to bed and sleeps with it under their pillow so as to get a vision of a future spouse in their dreams.
Other customs involve blindfolded girls pulling up cabbages and examining the shape of the root to make conclusions about a future spouse, throwing nuts into the fire to see if they jump (if they do, a lover will prove unfaithful), sprinkling letters cut out of a newspaper on to some water to see what name they form (that of a future lover) and inviting a blindfolded person to place their left hand on one of three dishes, one filled with clean water, another with foul water and the last empty. If the clean water is chosen, the person’s future partners will be attractive and desirable; if the foul water is selected, he or she will already have been married; if the empty dish is chosen, there will be no partner at all.
Some girls may be tempted to follow the ritual of eating a salted herring before retiring for the night: the resulting thirst will summon up the sympathetic spirit of a future partner who will come with a drink of water. More complicated is the ancient procedure in which a person dips their sleeve in a stream at a point where land belonging to three people meets, and then goes home and hangs the sleeve in front of the fire: during the night the spirit of a future spouse will materialize and turn the sleeve to allow the other side to dry.

That’s about it. I realized in all my years of researching superstitions that most of them has something to do with finding a future mate or death. I guess this is because marriage and death are an integral part of life.
Halloween is such a recognized holiday yet many don’t know much of the behind the scenes stuff. I hope I was able to share some fun facts here today. Thank you so much for hanging out with me.
Please make sure to grab a copy of Unreap My Heart and follow me on twitter @KateEvangelista for announcements and giveaways. Happy Halloween! 

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UnReap My Heart by Kate Evangelista

Paperback, First, 270 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Omnific Publishing

Only a villain can save the day.

During his thousand year banishment in the Nethers, Balthazar thought of nothing but taking over the Crossroads from Death.

On the day he puts his plans into action, Balthazar finds the Crossroads on lockdown. Death has been stabbed by Brianne’s Bitterness, a blade that slowly leaches him of his powers. In order to challenge Death for his seat and prevent utter chaos, Balthazar is forced into a mission to find the Redeemer, the only being capable of pulling out the blade from Death’s chest. The only person who can identify the Redeemer is a human girl in the Crossroads whose soul is still attached to her body.

Meeting Arianne Wilson pushes Balthazar’s patience to the limit. In a deal he makes with Death, he must protect Arianne during their journey through the Underverse using all the resources available to him. He soon realizes the one he needs to protect is himself. For as much harm as it inflicts on Balthazar's body, trekking through the Underverse with Arianne is proving more dangerous for his heart and soul.

Can the villain remain a villain when love gets in the way?

5 e-copies of Reaping Me Softly by Kate Evangelista
RUNS TILL: October 31st

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