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Where Did Halloween Come From?
Ever find yourself wondering - Where Did Halloween Come From? Me too so I did a little research and here's what I found.
While many people are aware of the annual celebration of
Halloween being associated with the Catholic Church, what they do not
realize is that the observance of Halloween began before Christ was
In the very beginning Halloween was a three-day festival that began on November 1st to celebrate the end of the summer, which included the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. The festival was originally called Samhain; it was originated by the Celts in what is known today as Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France. The reason that they chose November 1st as the day to begin this celebration was due to the fact that October 31st was officially the last day of summer.
Samhain Festival History
Photo Credit: Alex Morrice
Samhain was not only the name of the festival that was used to
celebrate the beginning of winter; it is also the name of the Lord of
Darkness that the Druids (Celtic priests) worshipped. The festival was
named Samhain after the Lord of Darkness because winter being a cold
and dark time of year was often associated with human death. There are
several Samhain Prayers that demonstrate this.
The Druids knew November 1 as The Feast of Samhain, and the night before, the eve of Samhain the boundary between the living and the dead disappeared. The Druids believed that evil spirits were condemned to the body of animals and any human that died within the preceding twelve months returned to earth looking for human bodies to inhabit during Samhain. People feared these spirits, they believed they were harmful and would try to inhabit their bodies.
During this time, Samhain was celebrated in two different ways. The first way of celebrating Samhain involved taking stock of their food supplies for the upcoming winter, they also slaughtered their livestock for the upcoming winter.
On the eve of Samhain, known to us as Halloween, people would put out their hearth fires while the Druids lit big bonfires on the hilltops. Crops, animals, and sometimes humans were burned in the hilltop bonfires as a sacrificial offering to the Lord of darkness. This offering was made in an attempt to protect the community from the return of the evil spirits, but also as a way to encourage the return of the sun.
Still want more where did Halloween come from? Ok, ok, here you go . . .
The tradition of dressing up in costumes for Halloween derives
from these ancient times. On the eve of Samhain people dressed in
costumes so that the evil spirits that were returning to earth would
mistake them as other evil spirits. The mistaken identity protected the
people from being inhabited by the evil spirits that were looking for
human bodies. Villagers also left food on their doorsteps to discourage
the spirits from entering the house.
Catholic Church and Halloween History
After the Romans conquered the Celtic territory, two other
celebrations were combined with Samhain, Feralia, which commemorated
the passing of the dead, and the honoring of Pamona who was the Roman
Goddess of fruit and trees. The Roman Catholic Church was uncomfortable
with the pagan celebration, but they did not try to eliminate the
celebration. Instead, what they did was impress their own observances
on Samhain, which is where All Saints Day originated from, which is
used to commemorate the passing of the dead.