Halloween in all honor, but it’s nothing new in Sweden... As it turns out, in Nibble, Uppland, 600 BC, an annual ritual took place that looked spookily like a combination of Halloween and All Saints Day.
In fall, after the harvest, it was time to honor the dear dead once with a great meal. The living prepared the fest, roasting grains and baking thin, flat bread (tunnbröd) of corn and wheat. A lamb was slaughtered, a treat since the Nibble people’s daily diet consisted mostly of milk and oatmeal. For spice they used thyme and juniper berries. The lamb is cooked slowly in one of their cooking pits, close to their place of worship. A small bone from one of the dead relatives is then taken, cleaned, ground in a mortar and mixed in with the food. A leader of the cult, a woman, serves the dishes by the big altar inside the temple, where she has lit fires and in these she has put herbs that make it smell nice, creating a magic atmosphere. The Nibble people enjoy the food and drink fresh, frothy beer. They play with dice, made of bones from sheep and cows. They snack on hazelnuts and apples. But they don’t forget the dead. A big part of the meal is saved and placed around a big totem pole, and some of the meal is placed on top of the dead ones’ graves. Sounds like a fairy tale? Three years ago, when a highway had to be rebuilt, excavations done by archeologists were done and what they found meant a scene like the one you just read, most certainly took place in the center of the village Nibble. There was a place for worship, a temple, and something like a cemetery, where the dead were burnt and buried. And it seems that food was also prepared at times, at this cemetery.
“They probably worshiped their ancestors,” says Magnus Artursson, archeologist at Riksantikvarieämbetet [Swedish National Heritage Board], and project leader for the Nibble excavation. The parallel to our Halloween and All Saints Day celebrations is clear.
“It’s not an impossible thought,” Artursson continues. “Halloween is an old celebration with Celtic, Germanic roots.” A great deal is known about the Nibble people. Such as that they lived mostly of corn, but also wheat, oat, and millet. Ergosterol has been found on pieces from big ceramic bowls, leading the archeologists to believe that the Nibble people brewed and drank beer. They also picked berries, blueberries and lingonberries – this was something the poor people did. In 600 BC in Nibble, society was already divided in rich and poor. Almost no bones of wild animals have been found, meaning the Nibble people were mostly farmers. Either there were few wild animals in the surrounding forests, or it was just easier to simply live of milk and oatmeal. The results from the Nibble excavations will be published in a couple of months.
Source: Riksantkvarieämbetet / Swedish National Heritage Board: www.raa.se
In Nibble, Uppland, people celebrated the dead already 600 BC. Above a reconstruction of a house in Nibble used around 500 BC. The house was burnt down (or torn down) three times and rebuilt just as many times at the same sight. It had two fireplaces, one for heating and lighting, and the other for cooking.