The history of Halloween
At the end of this week, the spookiest yearly holiday is coming along, and it just so happens to be my favourite of the holidays. But, as I often do, I have been taking the time to look back at the history of the things that I love. Although to me it is a chance to see people in costumes, maybe wear one of my own, to collect sweets in a spooky-themed bucket, for other people, the holiday held, or even holds, more value than those that it means to me. To discover this value, it is important to look back at where this holiday came from.
Halloween hasn’t always been known by this particular name, but rather the occasion was known as Samhain. To the Celts, Samhain acted as their New Years Eve, with November first being the start of their new year. As the weather grew colder and moved out of the fruitful summer seasons, it became winter, marking the start of the season associated with the most human deaths. The Celts believed that on October thirty first, the boundaries between the living and the dead was blurred and that the ghosts of those that had passed on were in the world once again for that night. Not only did they believe that this presence damaged the crops, but they also believed that it made it easier for Celtic priests, druids, to take a glimpse into the future, to predict what was to befall them in the coming months. Animals would be sacrificed to the Celtic deities and people would dress in outfits, sometimes consisting of animal heads and tried to tell each other’s futures.
After being concurred by the Roman empire, Samhain became merged with two different Roman traditions. The first of which is Feralia, a day that was intended as a way to commemorate the passing of the dead, which links to the idea that the veil between the living and the dead were thinned or blurred on the day formerly known as Samhain. The other set of traditions that mixed with Samhain was the day intended to honour Pamona, the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees, whose symbol was the apple. This fits in with Samhain, the celebration that occurs when the colder months come in when there is less food that is able to grow. It could be the incorporation of this tradition that inspires the activity of bobbing for apples as a part of the Halloween celebration.
Since then, Halloween has developed into a tradition that has become much more than a way to see the future, commemorate people passing and praise a Goddess. Today it is different for everyone who experiences the holiday. Whether you decorate the house with cobwebs or whether your house has no decoration at all, Halloween can be a pretty excuse to buy sweets from the shops, or even to dress in a way that you never have before. Plus, there is some perks to the fact that all the sweets go on discount the day after.