Americans go crazy over this Halloween thing, otherwise known as hallows eve, but what is it?
The word itself, “Halloween,” actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, “All Hollows Day” (or “All Saints Day”), is a Catholic day of observance in honour of saints.
But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31.
The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year.
One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year.
It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife.
The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.
Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed.
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 ghoulish outfits (similar to today’s Halloween Costumes, and noisily parade around the neighbourhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.
Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic tribes could relight their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach.
Some accounts tell of how the Celts would burn someone at the stake that was thought to have already been possessed, as sort of lesson to the spirits.
Other accounts of Celtic history debunk these stories as myth.
The Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own.
But in the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.
The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween.
In Greek mythology, goddesses of the underworld were often used to invoke the Samhain.
Popular costumes portray Hecate and Medusa.
Hecate was the most favoured goddess by Zeus, and wandered the emptiness between the worlds of life and death looking for souls of the dead.
Both were considered serpent goddesses, and their ancient dark legends spawned myths such as vampires, who fed off the living using venom and snake-like fangs.
Ritualistic goddess costumes include snake adornments and three-headed masks.
Today, Hecate is often referred to as the goddess of witches.
The thrust of the practices also changed over time to become more ritualized.
As belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role.
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 favourite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates.
The custom of trick-or-treat is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling.
On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants.
The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors.
At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul’s passage to heaven.
The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore.
As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan 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 was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favourite “holiday,” the day itself did not grow out of evil practices.
It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, and out of medieval prayer rituals of Europeans.
Today, even many churches have parties complete with Costumes or pumpkin carving events for the kids.
After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.
Once again we see that the different beliefs and interruptions of Halloween have become somewhat centred around extremes, however it got me to thinking.
We spend the entire of our kids’ lives telling them to behave, not to graffiti or cause damage to another’s property, yet this one night a year for whatever reason, its ok for our kids to Rome the streets take food and money from total strangers and if they do not receive what they knocked on the door for, its ok to throw rolls of toilet paper up the trees and across the person’s yard.
It’s even ok for our kids to put a bag filled with dog shit on the neighbours doorstep light it on fire (arson I might add) and run away laughing as they watch granddad stomp it out, not realising that grand dad had on a flammable dressing gown or nylon pants as his body becomes engulfed in the flames of smouldering shit.
Are we not sending our children mixed messages once again with this alleged tradition?
I think we are, in fact I think that there is nothing cool about cults,
Sacrifices and demon worship
or non-worship, nor do I find there anything great about some religious crap that has been mixed into the whole evening.