ANCIENT ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN

The origins of Halloween date back to the Celts 2,000 ago. Inhabiting present-day Great Britain and northern France, the Celts celebrated Samhain (pronounced sow-in), a festival during the Celtic new year of November 1st. This day marked the decline of summer and the beginning of the colder months. Because the Celts often associated cold and damp with death, they believed that during the night, before the new year (October 31), the boundary between life and the after life was blurred. Ancestors were believed to rise from the dead and cause trouble and damage crops. Druids (priests) were also known to make predictions around this time, serving as a form of ancient almanac for the Celts. Large bonfires and offerings were made to commemorate this day, as the Celts adorned costumes made of animal skins. Once the festivities concluded, they lit their hearths with the fire of the bonfire to protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 45, the Romans had conquered most of the Celtic territory. During their 400-year rule over the Celts, two roman festivals were combined with Samhain, Feralia, to commemorate the dead, and Pomona, in honor of the goddess of fruit and trees. From the latter, we have maintained the tradition of bobbing for apples.

By the 800s, Christianity had spread into the Celtic lands. Pope Boniface IV declared November 1 “All Saints Day” or “All Hallows” in the seventh century to honor the saints and martyrs. Because Samhain occurred the night previous, it was referred to as “All Hallows Eve” and eventually evolved into “Halloween.”

The Waynedale News Staff

Destany Maddox

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