A GLIMPSE INTO THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN

September 25, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Halloween Decorating Ideas

The origin of Halloween appears to date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (it was pronounced like “sow-in”)

In Gaelic culture the festival of Samhain was a celebration of the end of the harvesting season, and it sometimes is regarded as the “Celtic New Year”.  At this time, taking stock of supplies was done by ancient Celtic pagans and to slaughter livestock for the winter storage. October 31st was considered by the ancient Celtics to be the time that the earthly boundary between the living and dead blurred, and the dead could become present and ruin crops and become dangerous to the living with sickness and fear.

There were festivals held with bonfires and the use of slaughtered livestock thrown into the fire as a ritual, along with costumes  and masks worn, at an attempt to trick the evil spirits into believing they were among their own. The costumes were mostly worn by young men, dressed in white and veiled in black material or covered in materials that made them appear to be dark. Often animal heads and skins were used and they foretold of the future.

Later in history, the Romans had their own ritual regarding the line between the dead and the living and it was called Feralia, a date in late October. Over time the two were combined.

It was the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona that the “bobby for apples” derived.

Because of the Christianity move into the Celtic lands in the 800’s, the Pope designated November 1st “All Saints Day”, a day to honor martyrs and saints.  It is believed that the Pope could have been trying to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related but church-sanctioned holiday.

Between these two and another saints day, the name of “All Hallowmas”, (from Middle English meaning “All Saints Day), this became “Halloween” eventually. Believing that the head was the most powerful part of the body and containing the spirit knowledge, the Celts used the larger vegetables to carve faces or the dead, to frighten off the evil spirits.

In today’s North America the “Pumpkin” is the most readily available large vegetable in the season and therefore used for the holiday.

Over time commercialism has been the cause of the different types of costumes and gore associated with Halloween.  Horror movies, vampires, skeletons, and even costuming in princesses and devils. The children “trick or treat” in the evening of Halloween as a part of the ritual. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, scarecrows and others are also widely recognized for this holiday. Homes are decorated with these types of Halloween icons every year.

Halloween spans thousands of years from many cultures it comes mainly from belief that the dead and living have their own realms to live in and line should not be crossed. The rituals were mainly to protect livestock and food resources and then to continue the hearth fire for the winter season.

Written by: P. Dale Henson

Sources for dates and definitions: History.com and Wikipedia

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