Halloween is such a controversial holiday. I will not elaborate any more than that. It has a long and deep history. There are different beliefs, customs and traditions that come from the origins of Halloween. So, I’ve been digging into this “holiday” to understand it better because honestly it’s very interesting to me and thought I would share the top five things I’ve found to be important to mention
Halloween was not always Halloween.
Halloween began in Ancient Gaelic Ireland. It was originally celebrated as the Celtic festival Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The literal meaning of Samhain is ‘summer’s end’. Celebrating the end of the summer days and welcoming the darker half of the year (the colder winter months). Preparation for the winter was the center of the celebrations. Communities would ensure their food supply for the cold months ahead. Food was gathered and animals were slaughtered.
The spiritual side to Samhain is important to note because it explains certain traditions. Samhain is believed to be a point in time that the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest and therefore can be visited by good and evil.
Samhain is also very significant when we look at the legends and myths that refer to the :”feast”. Fairies, deities present themselves and important events in Irish mythology happen around the same time of Samhain and many Neolithic tomb passages are aligned to the sunrise on this day.
Jack O-Lantern the real story
In Irish folklore, Jack was a blacksmith. He tricked the devil several times. When Jack died, he was denied entrance into both heaven and hell. When the devil turned him away, he gave Jack one thing…a burning ember by which he might see in the darkness. Jack hollowed out a turnip to carry the ember and give himself light. The tradition of carving pumpkins dates back to at least 1836 and was borrowed from this European tradition of carving jack-o-lanterns from turnips or other root vegetables as pumpkins are not native to Europe.
Monsters scaring monsters
Costumes were worn by the Celts during Samhain to warn off evil spirits that would bring harm to their family or crops. These costumes were usually scary and monstrous. While wearing these costumes they would also light the bonfire on top of high hills to scare evil spirits away.
That wise old owl
The Ancient Greeks linked owls to the Goddess Athena and saw them as symbols of wisdom. During the middle ages they were given an evil reputation and were associated with both death and devil worship. As women were burned for witchcraft, owls and other animals such as black cats were killed as well.
There is so much history in Halloween. Good or Bad it is still one of the most interesting of holidays because there are so many versions of this day. As Christmas has many different origins, cultures and traditions so to does Halloween.