Archive for the ‘Ancient History’ Category
How did Halloween start? The holiday goes back to the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. Around 2000 years ago the ancient Celts from Britain and Ireland set bonfires on hilltops to ward off the evil spirits before the start of the winter season. They celebrated their new year on November 1, This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.
People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables and thank the gods for the harvest and appease the gods of the coming winter. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
Druids or celtic preiests thought that spirits in thier precense, that they could make pridictions of the future. prophecies where important for these people that lived in a cold dark world. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
Around 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered a vast majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two Roman festivals were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on today.
In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Later In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated with some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.
Later in the 9th century christian influence spread into celtic lands where it blended with other celtic rites and traditions. The catholic church would later make november 2, All souls day in 1000 A.D. a day to honor the dead. Many people today belive that the catholic church by sactioning a holiday to honor the dead it was trying to replace the celtic festival of the dead.
Halloween comes to America
Halloween came to America in the middle of the 19th century, in 1846 millions of Irish immigrants flooded America during the potatoe famine. these immigrants made this celebration popular by dressing up and going house to house asking for food or money. Later Americans began the practice that became the trick or treat tradition.
During the 1920s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties. By the 1930s halloween had plagued many town celebrations with vandalism. By the 1950s baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classrooms or homes. the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. So to prevent tricks being played on them families started providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
Rome’s early history is shrouded in legend. According to Roman tradition, the city was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC. Archaeological evidence supports the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built in the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC, the date is subject to controversy. The original settlement developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom (ruled by a succession of seven kings, according to tradition), and then the Roman Republic (from 510 BC, governed by the Senate), and finally the Roman Empire (from 27 BC, ruled by an Emperor). This success depended on military conquest, commercial predominance, as well as selective assimilation of neighbouring civilisations, most notably the Etruscans and Greeks. From its foundation Rome, although losing occasional battles, had been undefeated in war until 386 BC, when it was briefly occupied by the Gauls. According to the legend, the Gauls offered to deliver Rome back to its people for a thousand pounds of gold, but the Romans refused, preferring to take back their city by force of arms rather than ever admitting defeat, after which the Romans recovered the city in the same year.
Roman dominance expanded over most of Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, while its population surpassed one million inhabitants. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world, and remained so after the Empire started to decline and was split, even as it lost its capital status to Milan and then to Ravenna, and was surpassed in prestige by the Eastern capital Constantinople.
What eventually became the Roman Empire began as settlements around the Palatine Hill along the river Tiber in Central Italy. The river was navigable up to that place. The site also had a ford where the Tiber could be crossed. The Palatine Hill and hills surrounding it presented easily defensible positions in the wide fertile plain surrounding them. All these features contributed to the success of the city.
The traditional account of Roman history, which has come down to us through Livy, Plutarch, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and others, is that in Rome’s first centuries, it was ruled by a succession of seven kings. The traditional chronology, as codified by Varro, allots 243 years for their reigns, an extraordinary average of almost 35 years , which, since the work of Barthold Georg Niebuhr, has been generally discounted by modern scholarship. The Gauls destroyed all of Rome’s historical records when they sacked the city after the Battle of the Alliain 390 BC (Varronian, according to Polybius the battle occurred in 387/6), so no contemporary records of the kingdom exist, and all accounts of the kings must be carefully questioned.
Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, it became one of the largest empires in the ancient world.
In its centuries of existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to an increasingly autocratic empire. It came to dominate Western Europe and the Mediterranean region through conquest and assimilation.
The Western Roman Empire went into decline and disappeared in the 5th century AD. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, Britannia and Italy, broke up into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern part of the empire, governed from Constantinople, comprising Greece, Anatolia, Syria and Egypt, survived this crisis, and despite the loss of Syria and Egypt to the Arab Islamic Empire, revived and would live on for another millennium, until its last remains were finally annexed by the emerging Turkish Ottoman Empire. This eastern, Christian, medieval stage of the Empire is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians.
Roman civilization is often grouped into “classical antiquity” with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today.