Halloween is just around the corner and the frantic race for the scariest and most outrageous dresses is on. But, did you stop to think, what is this festival all about? I love the history behind all celebrations and believe that these tales of adventure and fantasy should be passed on to the next generation. After all, it is these small traditions that make us human and connect the generations.
History of Halloween
It is believed that the origin of Halloween lies in the Celtic festival of “Samhain”. It was a day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of cold and dark winters. Celts believed that on the night of October 31st the spirits of the dead returned to Earth.
History is a witness to the changing roles that Church has played in influencing politics, religion, and cultures. In its bid to replace “Samhain”, Pope Gregory III declared November 1st as “All Saints Day”. Halloween was initially known as “All Hallows Eve”, an evening before “All Hallows Day” or the “All Saint’s Day”. Soon after, November 2nd was declared as the “All Souls Day”, day to honor the departed souls.
With the merging of beliefs and the rising importance of the Church, the traditional “Samhain” was replaced with “All-hallowsmas” meaning “All Saints Day” and eventually “Halloween”.
The Story Of Jack O’Lanterns
The story goes that Stingy Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree. He then placed crosses around the tree so the devil could not climb down. Only, when the devil promised not to take Stingy Jack’s soul on his death, did he remove the crosses. When Stingy Jack finally died he did not get entry into heaven and the devil did not take him in hell. Scared of the dark in the Netherworld he asked the devil for some light. The devil gave him an ember which Jack placed inside a turnip he always carried.
On the night of Halloween, the Irish carved turnips and placed burning embers inside them to ward off Stingy Jack’s evil spirit. When the Irish came to America, the sentiments behind the celebration remained the same, but pumpkins replaced turnip.
P.S. Do check in next week to read about the tradition of “Trick or Treat”. For more good reads visit my blog Yahoo2info… it’s good to share.