Friday, December 26, 2014

Halloween Protestants - Le Roi Huguet

On both this blog and my red hair blog I've been discussing the relationship between Halloween and Protestantism. I've basically been making the claim that many of the traditions we associate with Halloween have their roots (either wholly or in-part) in the Protestant movement. For example, I've mentioned the possibility that the Halloween pumpkin may be a totemic symbol of both red hair and Martin Luther.

Anyway, yesterday I came across another little piece of evidence that these two historic strands are entwined. The following passage comes from a book titled Nostradamus: A Life and Myth by a writer named John Hogue;
Now they called a Calvinist a Huguenot. The label came from le roi Huguet,  a character taken from a popular folk tale from Tours. He was the ghost of a wicked king who chose not to pass his nocturnal penance in Purgatory, but instead haunted the night, waylaying lonely travelers on country roads and rattling the shutters and doors of decent people's homes, disturbing their sleep. It so happened that the Calvinists of Tours gathered at night to pray at a city gate known as Roi-Hugon. Priests and parishioners across France reveled in the pun that identified Protestants shuffling off after dark to pray and hobnob with the unrepentant shade of King Huguet. The Huguenots (freely translated as the "followers of Huguet") were soon compared to the mythological ghouls and ghosts who once a year, on All Soul's Day, ventured out from their tombs for a night of unholy Halloween mischief before settling back into their graves.
This is a fascinating little bit of evidence. It stands to reason that what would be used as an insult by Catholic enemies would be worn as a badge of honour by the Protestants it was aimed at (at least secretly, if not openly).

It's interesting to note that the Calvinists were praying at "a city gate known as Roi-Hugon". According to Wiktionary (French Wiktionary :p) Hugon means "man of spirit" and derives from the Old High German word hugu meaning intelligence.

It also makes sense that Protestants would look to a king that "chose not to pass his nocturnal penance in Purgatory", as Protestants rejected the notion of Purgatory.

Were these Protestants worshipping intelligence and human reason?

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