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Monday, October 15, 2007


The end of this month will bring with it Halloween, which opens the door for Thanksgiving followed by Christmas. Yes, I know, you’re not ready yet. Wasn’t it summer only a few months ago? But here it is, like it or not! And in case you were wondering how Halloween started, I’m going to give you the short version.

There are many narratives and I cannot say with certainty which one of them is true. So, here’s one – Over two thousand years ago the Celtics, who lived in European rural areas, celebrated their New Year and their ancestor night on October 31 by festival of Samhain (means summer’s end) to give thanks for their harvest and to remember their beloved dead. It was said that the veil between the world of life and death is thin the night of Oct 31st and the spirits of the dead can freely roam among the living. The Samhain festival was associated with bonfires, costumes, and leaving food out for the dead. To give nothing meant that the hungry and irritated spirit might intrude upon one's house and help itself to one's belongings. Leaving out food that had spoiled was also considered an invitation to disaster. Therefore eventually came, the ritual of trick-or-treat.

When the Romans conquered the Celtics, their festivals merged with Samhain, particularly the festival of Pomona where they picked apples without using their arms. As time passed and Christianity spread, November 1st became All Hallows day (all saints day) instead of may 13 in an effort diabolize and get rid of October 31st celebration and to replace it with one not associated with pagan rituals. Not only did this effort fail, but All Hallows eve became Halloween. As Europeans migrated to America, especially the Irish, they helped popularize the celebration of Halloween.