By | Oct 31, 2013

2013 Happy Halloween

Halloween, or as it’s called in Ireland the Hallow E’en, means All Hallows Eve.  It’s the night before the ‘All Hallows’. This day is also called ‘All Hallowmas’, or ‘All Saints’, or ‘All Souls’ Day and is observed on November 1. The word ‘Hallow’ means ‘sanctify’ in Old English. All Hallows Day was observed by  Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherians to honor all the Saints in heaven.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The day marked the end of summer and the harvest.  The  Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and on the night of October 31 the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday.

When the Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800s They brought with them the traditions of Halloween and the use of Jack-O-Lanterns. The lantern, carved from a turnip, potato, or beet and lit with a burning lump of coal or a candle, represented the souls of the departed loved ones and were placed in windows or set on porches to welcome the deceased. They also served as protection against malevolent spirits or goblins freed from the dead. Since turnips and gourds were not as readily available in the Americas the pumpkin was used as a replacement.

One possible origin of Trick-or-Treat may come from the Druids who believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes. Another is an old Irish practice of going door to door to items in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill.

The wearing of costumes at Halloween comes from the Celts. During Samhain, Celtic villagers would don costumes to represent the souls of the dead and dance out of town.  They did this in hope of leading the dead along with them. As it moved to the Christian religions, parishioners would dress as their favorite Saints and display relics of these souls.


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