The History of Halloween (according to Halloweenerrific)
What is Halloween? Good question!
Halloween (also known as Hallowe’en) has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, a name which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summer’s end”.
The leaves would fall and this time was seen as and was the beginning of the end of the seasonal cycle as winter approached. Living things would die and hybernate to be reborn and rejuvinated in the following spring.
This link with death and re-birth was as important to mankind spiritually as it was physically as it was seen as being the crossing over period. Ancient Celts were of the belief that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. This is why it is still widely believed that you’re more likely to see something spooky at this time of year!
A family’s ancestors (yes the dead ones) were acknowledged and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off, using lanterns (later carved vegetables and more recently, pumpkins) and other decoration. It is even believed that the need to ward off these harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks, as by dressing as a bad spirit, you were less likely to be approached by one. Good logic!
The association with food is largely to do with the time of harvesting and taking stock for the winter stores. Trick or treating or ‘guising’ is probably linked to both this and the idea that by making the spirits an offering of food, you could ensure that they would leave your household well alone.
Apple bobbing, one of the more popular games during this celebration is said to stem from the links with the Roman goddess Pomona, with the apples representing love or fertility – how very un-scary. Unless you’re afraid of commitment of course!
Although Hallowe’en has become more commercially popular in the USA it is still widely celebrated in its various forms around the world. In my experience, it’s still very much seen as an ‘American’ thing which is a real shame considering that its origins are in fact right here in the UK.
I’m not going to get on my soap box though as things are changing. The occasion is growing in popularity over here and it seems that people are finally respecting this significant time of year as they should with any other important historical event.
We owe a lot to America for their tireless promotion of the event (perhaps a little too much as far as the commercial aspect of it goes, but still) so hats off to them.
It should be seen as another family occasion worth celebrating, a time to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, partake in games, good food and celebration. Oh, and maybe the odd scare or two.
To put it another way, it can be seen as a celebration of death, something which after all is a natural thing. October the 31st should not be a day to be morbid or look too much at the dark side of things, but more accept that there is an end, but ultimately that there is something else afterwards… Or at least that’s the way that we like to look at it.
Enough with the history lesson. Now on with the Halloween fun!