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Inmates relieved from prison duties to celebrate pagan festivals

Criminals will be released form prison duties to observe pagan festivals. Prison inmates will be allowed time off to observe four out of eight pagan events that are part of a list compiled by prison officials. Inmates who are pagan will now have permission to celebrate certain pagan holidays.

Among the festivals on the list is Imbolc which honors Brighid who is a goddess. The celebration falls on February 1 every year. Beltane is held in May to honor the Sun God. The festival centers around fertility and includes different rituals that in the past were intended to ensure a good harvest for the next year.

The list also acknowledges Yule where devotees chant spells and wear ghost costumes. Prison officials are considering giving the pagan inmates different food during the holidays. Certain foods are linked to each holiday with Ewe’s milk attributed to the Imbolc celebration. Simnel Cake is eaten by devotees during Spring Equinox. Autumn Equinox is linked to roast goose.

Samhain which occurs at the same time as Halloween is marked by apple bobbing. The changes in the treatment of pagan inmates is one of the steps taken in recent efforts to uphold the rights of prisoners and enable all inmates to follow their own faith.

The guidelines say that prison staff should know about the pagan festivals. In the guidelines it is said that there are eight festivals that the majority of pagans celebrate but each individual places different emphasis on certain events. It was therefore decided in collaboration with the Pagan Federation that prisoners could chose four events for themselves.

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