The Origins of Halloween



So where did we get this controversial holiday from anyway? The word Halloween actually has deep roots within the Catholic church. Its sort of a corrupted version of All Hallows Eve or All Saints Night which was a festival held in honour of saints on November 1st. The ancient Celts celebrated Samhain (pronounced sow-en), their version of new years eve on October 31st. Through thousands of years of dilution, the two got mixed up.

Halloween was brought to America with Irish immigrants the 1840's. The Celtic people believed that certain turning points in time were magickal. It is still a well known saying that midnight is the witching hour. The turning of the year was considered particularly potent and the veil between the worlds was at its thinnest. This was considered a wonderful time to commune with the dead or tell your fortune.

Because Samhain was considered an untime, the people believed that chaos reigned and would engage in outlandish behaviour and sport unusually high spirits. On this night, people would imitate fairies or spooks and run from house to house begging for treats.

They would carry a turnip carved with a small face to hold a flame for light on their path. If the homeowner denied them, they would assail him with pranks and practical jokes. Here is probably the cause for trick or treat.

The Celts would extinguish their home fires and make a journey to the centre of Ireland where a Druidic fire was lit by rubbing two pieces of wood together, later being blessed by the Druids. People would take a torch lit from this sacred fire and return home lighting their hearths once more. This was likely symbolic of the new year.

Samhain was the last of the harvest festivals and anything left in the fields after this day was considered fairy food, unfit for human consumption. One of the favourite activities of the evening was divining ones future.

Bobbing for apples was originally a form of marriage divination - who ever bit into an apple first, would be the first to marry in the new year. Another apple divination was to peel an apple - the longer the peel, the longer your life would last. And most cheerful of all was when each person would place a stone in the hearth ashes before going to bed - if your stone had been disturbed upon waking, you were destined to die within the year.

According to Irish folklore, there was a prankster named Jack who tricked the Christian devil into climbing a tree. Jack then carved a cross into the wood trapping the devil. Jack made a deal that if the devil never tempted him again, he would be freed.

After Jack died, he was not allowed into heaven because of his evil ways. When he turned to hell, the devil would not allow him in because of the trick Jack played. The devil did, however, give him a single ember to light his way in between the worlds.

For fear of it burning out, Jack placed the ember inside of a turnip. Thus, we have the Jack OLantern. Irish immigrants switched from turnips to pumpkins when they arrived because in America, they were more plentiful.

Halloween is considered a wonderful time to finish old projects, start new projects and contemplate life. The activities of the season include research or study, and crafts for the coming of Yule. I dont know about you, but I miss trick-or-treating!

Ivy Mills has been researching chemical sensitivity and natural alternatives for over five years and has brought her knowledge to the marketplace in her company, Valhalla Essences. Her personal experiences have fed a passion to help others with the same problem. Ivy welcomes others to share their stories and experiences on her blog, Peaceful Power.
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