has taught us that Halloween descends from a Celtic festival known as "Samhain".
These festivals occurred over 2,000 years ago in what is now England, France
and Ireland. The celebration occurred every Oct. 31, marking the return of the
cold, dark season.
was believed by the Celts to be the Lord of Death. It was October 31, and only
October 31 that Samhain would allow the deceased to return to their former
homes on earth.
As you can
imagine, all these spirits traveling in to the netherworld were quite
restless. Huge bonfires, built from sacred oak branches, were lit, and crops,
animals and even humans were sacrificed into the flames to quell these
spirits. The remaining bones were then collected and “read” to predict the
fortune of the upcoming year, which started Nov. 1.
tradition of dressing up arose as the Celts donned frightening costumes made
from animal heads and skins, so the ghosts would think the Celts were not
mortal and thus would not harm them.
always in history, wars break out,
territory is claimed, and traditions are carried over to new people. When the
Romans conquered the
Celts in A.D. 43, Roman autumn celebrations such as the one honoring Pomona,
goddess of fruit and trees, were integrated with Samhain. Thus, apples became
associated with Halloween.
1800’s when large numbers of immigrants came to America, several Halloween
customs came with them.
settlers brought bobbing for apples.
of England and Scotland brought their custom of carving out beets, potatoes
and turnips to light as lanterns. The custom changed slightly upon reaching
America, with the pumpkin becoming our Jack o' Lantern.
history is one of sacrifices, religious traditions, and folklore. While it
seems strange to understand the motivation of these ancient actions, it is
good to know the roots of our current practices of Halloween.