Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ode to Halloween

So I thought in honor of Halloween, it might be fun to look back a little in history and see what is Halloween really about!

Sure, we think of it as Jack-o-lanterns, dressing up, candy corn, trick or treating and such. But How did Halloween really come about?

Halloween’s origins go all the way back to Ancient times with the Celtic festival of Samhain. This was the Celt’s version of a New Years Eve celebration honoring the end of summer and harvest time, and marking a period of cold, darkness, and death of winter. Celts believed that this end of the year time marked the time in which the barrier between the living and the dead became thin. On October 31st the spirits would come back from the dead and create havoc by damaging the crops with frost and causing a multitude of other troubles.

The Roman church soon enacted a holiday to detour the worship of spirits, and so proclaimed November 1st as All Saint’s Day to honor the saints and martyrs of the church. This day was also known as All Hallows Eve. As the two religions began to mix much of the traditions of Samhain, such as dressing up in costumes and dancing around the fire, became one with All Hallows Eve to create Halloween.

So what about traditions? Like Bobbing for Apples? Well, when Roman tradition mixed with Celtic tradition, one festival near the time of Samhain was a day to honor the goddess of fruit trees, Pamona. Pamona is quite often symbolized as an apple, hence the modern day practice of bobbing for apples.

Trick or Treating is another long time tradition, surprisingly. (I also figured it was more modern day custom) Trick or Treating came from All Soul’s Day parades in early England. The poor citizens of England would line up on the sides of the street as the richer members of the community paraded by and threw them pastries called soul cakes. The starving citizens would accept these cakes in exchange for praying for the richer class’s dead family members.

Costumes! Another tradition of Halloween. This custom also started back in early England where citizens, knowing that Hallows Eve was a time for the spirits of their ancestors to come back and taunt them, would dress up in masks and costumes to keep the spirits from recognizing them.

Happy Halloween All!

** I found these awesome pictures on Etsy! Halloween Scene by WhatinSamHill . Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls by darkraven0 . Bobbing for Apples by Aerten . Trick or Treaters by ChristinaOrtega . Costumed figurine by jtnee . **


Anonymous said...

What interesting history MK! How perfect the pictures are to fit the stories!!! Happy Halloween!!!

J.T. Nee said...

I absolutely love Halloween! Costumes and creepiness,what more could you ask for?