Halloween is a wonderful celebration of parties, costumes & candy that comes once each year. But just how did this strange yet fun custom originate? Read on!
Originally Halloween was a festival of the spirits, which has survived to the present day in popular culture as "Halloween." This was a night of trick-or-treating by children and adults dressed in fun costumes of fantasy. All Hallows Eve is observed the night of October 31. Than it is followed on November 1 by All Hallows Day, also called All Hallowmas, All Saints' Day and All Soul's Day. The ancient Celtics called the festival "Samhain" and observed it to celebrate the onset of winter and the beginning of the Celtic New Year. "Samhain" means "end of summer." In Ireland the festival was known as "Samhein", or "La Samon", the Feast of the Sun. In Scotland, the celebration was known as "Hallowe'en." Samhain marked the third and final harvest, and the storage of food for the winter. It had nothing to do with anything evil.
Samhain was a solar festival marked by sacred fire and fire rituals during the height of the Druids, the priestly caste of the Celtics. All fires except those of the Druids were extinguished on Samhain. Householders who were not Druids were charged a fee for the fire which burned at their homes. All other fires were to be extinguished and were than all relit from the town's fire. So all the Celtic tribes could relight their fires from a common source. The Druid fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of fancy costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood in order to frighten away lost spirits.
The layer between the worlds of the living and the dead was believed to be at its thinnest point in the year, making communication between the living and the dead much easier. The Celtic's believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living, They belived that on the eve of the holiday, the souls of the dead freely roamed the land of the living. Numerous folk customs connected with the observances for the dead have survived to our present day. In addition to the souls of the dead roaming about, werewolves, warlocks & witches are believed to be out and at the peak of their supernatural powers. Of course we know this is not the truth.In Ireland and Scotland, the custom of extinguishing one's home fire and relighting if from the festival bonfire has continued into modern times.
In some parts of modern Scotland, young people still celebrate by building bonfires on hilltops and high ground, and then dance around the flames. The fire is known as Hallowe'en bleeze, and custom once included digging a circular trench around the fire to symbolize the sun.
The custom of trick or treating probably has several origins. An old Irish practice called for going door to door to collect money, breadcake, cheese, eggs, apples, and such in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill. Another was the begging for soul cakes, or offerings in exchange for promises of prosperity or protection against bad luck.
So, although some people may think that Halloween was once a practice of evil people, Halloween itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celtics celebrating a new year, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. You have nothing to fear and you should just enjoy the good clean fun of Halloween.
The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fences.
In the Roaring 1920's, Halloween parties were all the rage. Towns would have town dances, social club gatherings, and a variety of decorations followed suit. Parties had themes such as an "Animals" or "Famous People" with an art deco flair to the costumes and decorations.
By the 1930s, Halloween was being celebrated more by adults than by their children. Costumes were outlandish. And the parties would last all night. Many had lavish parties that would cost a small fortune.
The 1940s were the war years. Most of the parties were being given for the children. Most of the adult males were away.
By the 1950s the parties were almost exclusively for the children. The children didn't seem to mind though
By the 1960s the parties were again starting to join in on all the Halloween fun. The children were out trick-or-treating like never before. For the first time children were dressing as TV characters.
In the 1970's the people who enjoyed halloween began decorating the outside of their homes as well as the inside, decorations were becoming available in stores. People seemed to have realized that this was a fun holiday and nothing about it was evil.
The 1980s was the rebirth of the adult Halloween party. Adults found that they could enjoy the same games and fun as the children. Almost every store was now selling Halloween decorations.
The 1990's showed the increase of the popularity of Halloween. Many people started decorating there homes with the vast amount of Halloween decorations that were being made available. Many yards had more decorations for Halloweeen than any other holiday.
The 2000's. OK this is your time. Please do your part and throw a Halloween party. Preserve Halloween's history and all the fun. Wouldn't a nice Halloween be a great way to end the 2nd millennium? It's fun and easy to throw a halloween party. I have all the costumes, games, decorations, invitations music and more right here on this web site.
The Jack-o-lantern custom is believed to come from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a joker and trickster, tricked the devil into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree.
According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.
The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally. But when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips.
So the Jack-O-Lantern in America became a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with a candle instead of a ember.
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