DEAR SUN SPOTS: I recently moved to Maine and have noticed several references to Odd Fellows. Can you tell me who they are and what they do? — Jo, Lewiston
ANSWER: Sun Spots hopes readers will offer their input, but until then, here is what she found online.
Wikipedia offers detailed account of the history of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows:
"The Odd Fellows are one of the earliest and oldest Friendly Societies, but their early history is obscure and largely undocumented. There have been legends tracing their origins back to the exile of the Israelites in Babylon in the sixth century BC, and claims that the order was brought to Europe by Jewish prisoners, after the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem by the Roman Emperor Titus in AD 70. The legends go on to claim that 'an Order of Odd Fellows was established in 1452 by knights who were said to have met at the Boulogne-sur-Mer in London and formed a fraternity.'
"Although these legends are at best, dubious, the evolution from the guilds is more reliably documented. By the 13th century, the tradesmen's guilds had become established and prosperous. During the 14th century, with the growth of trade, the guild masters moved to protect their power (and wealth) by restricting access to the guilds. In response, the less experienced (and less wealthy) 'Fellows' set up their own rival guilds.
"The name Odd Fellows arose because, in smaller towns and villages, there were too few Fellows in the same trade to form a local Guild. The Fellows from a number of trades therefore joined together to form a local Guild of Fellows from an assortment of different trades, the Odd Fellows.
"During the following centuries, the idea of common people working together to improve their situation met with opposition (and persecution) from the upper classes, who saw them possibly as a source of revenue (taxes) but also as a threat to their power. For example, when the English King Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church, the guilds were viewed by him as supporting the Pope, and in 1545 he confiscated all material property of the guilds. Queen Elizabeth I took from the guilds the responsibility for training apprentices, and by the end of her reign, most guilds had been suppressed.
"The elimination of the trade guilds removed an important form of social and financial support from ordinary working people. In major cities like London, some guilds (e.g., the Free Masons and the Odd Fellows) survived by adapting their roles to a social support function."
Information at the Odd Fellow website (ioof.org) focuses on the current beliefs and goals of the organization:
"We are the family of Oddfellowship, composed of men, women and youth, believing in a supreme being, the creator and preserver of the universe, who have come together in our local communities having the same beliefs and values as others, that; friendship, love and truth are the basic guidelines that we need to follow in our daily lives. Through working in our local communities, states, provinces or nationally we understand that we can make a difference in the lives of people in our world."
DEAR SUN SPOTS: The House of Lady Debra is having a jewelry and craft and bake sale at the Auburn VFW from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Santa is coming from 1 to 3 p.m., with a kid's sock hop from 2 to 4 p.m. and dinner of beef stew or mac-n-cheese and hot dogs, drinks and desserts for $7.
There will be a giving tree, and we would love some help if anyone wants to share with their time or baked goods.
If anyone needs a table for this holiday time, there are $15 and $20 tables still left. Call 689-3591. — Lady Debra Seeley
DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Lisbon High School Athletic Booster Holiday Expo and Craft Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the LHS cafeteria. There is still room for crafters, so give us a call! Come support local artisans and vendors this holiday season. We'd love to have you.
The high school is at 2 Sugg Drive, Lisbon Falls, ME 04252. — Kelly Austin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 353-0949
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