Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Terrifying Tuesday: The history of Halloween

The History of Halloween

The ancient origin of Halloween began as the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-in).

2000 years ago, the Celts (pronounced Kelts) inhabited the areas now known as Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France.
They celebrated their new year on November 1st, which ended the summer/harvest season and began the long cold winter season.
The Celts believed that on the night of Samhain the ghosts of the dead returned to earth to cause great mischief and destruction.
Celts also believed that their Druid priests were able to communicate with the dead on this particular night and with the help of the dead-predict the future.

The Druid priests were the educated class amongst the Celts and were deeply religious.
They wore many hats in their culture such as; lawmakers, judges, scientists, poets and scholars.

Read more in Holidays
« Sexiest Halloween Costumes to Wear This YearChristmas: All That Effort for One Day »The celebration of Samhain began with every home owner extinguishing their hearth fires, which symbolized the winter season/or dark half of the year. Later during the same night they were all relit from a community fire. This rekindling was symbolic of the spring season when life would return.

The Celts knew nothing of Christianity and held their own beliefs about death and the world beyond. They believed that when a person died they went to a place called Tir nan Og and became young again and happy. Some Celts believed that the dead lived with the fairies in Scotland and Ireland.

Contrary to a lot of Christian beliefs, the Celts didn’t believe in demons, nor did they sacrifice humans to any evil gods. They did however believe in gods, monsters, elves, witches, giants and spirits.

The Celts were the first to bob for apples but it wasn’t a game to them. They believed that the first one amongst them to bite into an apple would be the first to marry in the upcoming new year.

Peeling an apple also held meaning and beliefs. The longer the peel-the longer ones life was destined to be.
The Scottish placed nuts or stones in their hearths before going to bed and believed that if they somehow moved during the night that it was an omen of death.

Some believe that the Druid priests sacrificed virgins during the Samhain festivals but there is no proof of this anywhere. The Celts did execute criminals and prisoners of war but it wasn’t done as a celebration and not during their festivities of Samhain. Rather, it was done as punishment, much like today.

There is also no known proof that the Celts dressed in costumes and begged one another for food during the festivities.

During the American Depression, it is said that poor children in some areas went door to door begging “anything for the poor?” but that this was practiced on Thanksgiving day not Halloween.

During the 1800’s in the U.S. both Irish and Scottish immigrants played pranks on Halloween night and then laid the blame on the elves, fairies, goblins and witches.

The phrase “trick or treat” is an American one and became popular in the late 1930’s when the door to door begging was introduced nationwide in an attempt to stop the “tricking” practice of the holiday which had become quite violent. What had started as simply knocking over outhouses, soaping windows and removing gates from fences, soon became more destructive and dangerous to property as well as animals and humans.

Now let’s fast forward to modern day, what do you think? Is Halloween is all about costumes and candy or do you believe that the dead really walk the earth? Should we paint our faces in fear?


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