Monday, October 31, 2011
1. Aside from dressing up and getting free candy, Halloween is a festival of the dying year, and the evening before All Saints Day. Legend has it that as ancient Celtic farmers believed there was one day a year when the season of life meets the season of death. As vegetation dies off, spirits that have been kept down all year rise and make their presence known amongst the living. This day was known as Samhain, the Celtic word for the end of summer.
2. The costume tradition dates back to Celtic Ireland, when people lit bonfires and dressed in disguises to confuse and scare away evil spirits believed to walk the earth. They did this on a day known as Samhain.
3. In the eight century, Pope Gregory III established All Hallows Day to celebrate all saints, known, and unknown. This day was held on November first, the day immediately following Celtic Samhain.
4. Over time, the two religious festivals/traditions became mixed among accepting Europeans, and soon Samhain became All Hallows Eve (the evening before All Saints Day).
5. Hallowe’en (the evolved name) was not celebrated in America until the mid 19th century, when a potato famine drove shiploads of starving Irish to America looking for a better life. They brought their beliefs and traditions with them, where those traditions were thrown into the mixed bag of other cultures also brought into the country.
6. As traditions were melded and changed, roaring bonfires became lanterns carved from pumpkins and gourds, and the Celts demonic disguises became modern day costumes.
7. Trick or Treating is believed to have begun in as poor people traveling from home to home, offering to pray for dead family members in exchange for small cakes.
8. In modern times, Halloween is one of the most profitable holidays on the calendar, though curiously, it is not technically considered a holiday (as in close government offices and schools), but a tradition.
Happy Hallowe'en everyone! And good luck to all the NaNoWriMo participants. Midnight comes fast, so be ready!
**Information gleaned from the History channel. You can find several clips about this topic here.