History of halloween (All Hallows Eve)

Samahain painting

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.Samahain painting

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.

Jack o lanterns

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