Story of Halloween
Halloween or allhalloween (not the movie) is one of the oldest marked dates with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman’s Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days. The clocks go back and cold weather is on its way.
History is all around us.
Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favourite. It was “he” who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow.
The Festival of Samhain
The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. They marked the end of the “season of the sun” and the beginning of “the season of darkness and cold.”
On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished. The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred). The Druids would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.
When the morning arrived the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.
The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”). Importantly, the festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.
During the first century, the Romans invaded Britain. They brought with them many of their festivals and customs. One of these was the festival know as Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens. They celebrated around the 1st of November. After hundreds of years of Roman rule the customs of the Celtic’s Samhain festival and the Roman Pomona Day mixed and become 1 major fall holiday.
All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day
The next influence came with the spread of the new Christian religion throughout Europe and Britain. In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church would make November 1st a church holiday to honour all the saints. They also called it All Saint’s Day, or Hallowmas, or All Hallows. Years later, the Church would make November 2nd a holy day. They called it All Souls Day in order to honour the dead. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils.
But the spread of Christianity did not make people forget their early customs. On the eve of All Hallows, Oct. 31, people continued to celebrate the festivals of Samhain and Pomona Day. Over the years the customs from all these holidays mixed. Thus, October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow’s Eve, Hallowe’en, and finally – Halloween.
The Halloween we celebrate today includes all of these influences, Pomona Day’s apples, nuts, and harvest, the Festival of Samhain’s black cats, magic, evil spirits and death, and the ghosts, skeletons and skulls from All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.
Later on we use this date to make the start of winter. The annual descent into winter is here and it is going to get even darker in the evenings. Try to avoid seasonal affective disorder (SAD) by keep your house warm and well maintained this autumn. No one wants depression. You want to increase melatonin hormone and help yourself to relax. Improve your lifestyle and enjoy yourself more. You could have a glass of wine at home. There are many ways to cope with long, dark winters. People now dress up in spooky outfits, paint their faces and scare themselves silly. Grab your pumpkin and have a fun night together doing something cool and unusual. Light some candles, snuggle up under a duvet on the sofa.