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The History Of Halloween

Halloween, a well known Festival to celebrate by all of us. It has become a tradition as well as trend, especially among the youngsters for a lot of time. Even adults alike enjoy this holiday today, with funny costumes, candy, and parties, while some countries observe this time as a remembrance of departed loved ones and religious saints. But there lies a History behind wearing Fancy Costumes and guising around the neighborhood for Trick-or-Treat.

 

It's that time of year once again, Halloween u...

It’s that time of year once again, Halloween ushers in the best holiday of the Holiday season! Taken at La Mesa Oktoberfest in 2007 but still relevant every Halloween. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It was first originated in European Countries like – United Kingdom, Ireland, northern France by The Celts, around 2,000 years ago. They called ‘Samhain’ (pronounced as ‘snow-en’), which was celebrated at the end of the Celtic year i.e. on the night before (or simple say, the eve of) 1st November, signaled the end of summer, the harvest season, and even the death of Ancient Pagan Celtics. Samhain was considered a magical holiday, and a lot of stories were mentioned about the Celtics practice and beliefs during this festival. Some said the spirits of those that had died in that year, were unleashed and offerings of food and drink were left to aid the spirits in order to ward them away. While others and mostly said, they used to dress up in scary costumes and roam the neighborhoods making noise to scare the spirits away. A sacred, central bonfire was always lit to honor the Pagan gods. It was said that Fortunes were told by the sacred bonfire, and marked stones thrown into it. There was another custom to extinguish the home fires. Some say the reason home fires were extinguished is to scare away evil spirits from homes, while others say that home fires were supposed to be lit from embers from the sacred bonfire to start the New Year.

 

As far as “Trick-or-Treat” tradition came into this festival, it was originated by some of the Celts who wore costumes of animal skulls and skins and roamed around during Samhain, dressed as beggars asking for food door to door. Those that gave food to the faeries were rewarded by them, were punished otherwise.

 

Photo of a Halloween trick-or-treater, Redford...

Photo of a Halloween trick-or-treater, Redford, Michigan, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Later in the First century A.D., the Roman Empire invaded most of the Celtic lands. The Romans had two festivals also celebrated for Pomona, the Roman goddess of trees and fruit, at the same time of year as Samhain. These were combined with Samhain in the Celtic lands during 400 years of Roman Reign over the Celts. Now that’s why, The apple (Symbol of Goddess Pomona) probably became the root of the Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples and other manipulations of the fruit which were thought to predict the fortuned future, on this night of Samhain.

 

As The Christianity had spread over the Celtic and the Roman regions over the next several hundred years, The Christian church disliked this festival and demanded a replacement. About in 835 A.D., Pope Gregory IV moved  the date of All Saints Day (honouring dead church saints and martyrs) to November 1, which probably took the attention away from the Pagan Samhain festival. However, many Pagan traditions of Samhain were still continued to be practiced. All Saints Day was also known as All Hallowmas in Old English. As Samhain was celebrated the eve night before November 1, this celebration was therefore, known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween. In the year 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 as All Souls Day, to honour the death of non-saints.

 

Even “Jack o’lanterns” has a storyline from the past. In Irish myth, a drunker known as “Stingy Jack”, tricked the devil most of times in his life. But after his death, he was not allowed in heaven or in hell. However, The devil taking pity of Jack and gave him an ember to light his way on his eternal walks on Earth, carried in a hollowed out turnip. The Celtics used a hollowed out rutabaga to carry an ember from the sacred Samhain bonfire home to light their home fires.

 

Jack-o-lantern

Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This festival was not so popular in early United States history though, as it was considered mostly a Catholic, Episcopalian, and Pagan holiday, and therefore largely ignored. However, in the southern colonies, such as Virginia and Maryland, there were some traces of Halloween customs observed. They called it “play parties” where people neighborhoods celebrated together by dancing, singing, telling fortunes and even stories of the dead. By the mid 1800’s, most of the Irish immigrants, mostly Catholics brought many Halloween traditions with them. The pumpkin, which was very plentiful in the New World, became the face of Jack o’lanterns These holidays (Halloween and All Saints Day) were later being published on public calendars, magazines and newspapers, to publicize these festivals, which soon became popular in the United States more as a community and family holiday, rather than one of great religious and supernatural importance. As days passed by and the popularity increased in the twentieth century, they became highly community centered with parties city-wide, parades, and great costumes.

 

This holiday is mostly aimed to children, but still enjoyable young and old enjoy, with events and parties for everybody. A lot of teenagers and young adults get together wearing costumes of Ghosts, Gods, Action Heroes or even any Famous Celebrity and have a special Halloween Party whole night. In a nutshell, we all celebrate this spooky but special festival to amuse and scare children (and some adults) to get everybody in the “spirit” of Halloween.

 

English: Candy or trick . Svenska: Bus eller g...

English: Candy or trick . Svenska: Bus eller godis i Sverige. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

References:-

 

Halloween Wiki Page :-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween

 

The History of Halloween :-  http://www.history.com/topics/halloween

 

American Celebrate Holidays :- http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_hallowen_1.html

 

The History and Customs of Halloween :- http://wilstar.com/holidays/hallown.htm

 

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