Wishing you and yours a happy, safe Halloween!
Halloween as it is celebrated these days is but a pale representation of its rich and multicultural history. It is not, as some would call it, a celebration of the Devil or of Hell or of the Damned, but rather a blending of the celebrations marking the end of the growing season, a heralding of the coming of the winter months and folk traditions that told of the day when the veil between the living and the dead, ever a transparent, gossamer veil at that, would lift and ghosts and ghouls would walk among the living. From those many traditions, coming to us from the Celts, the Roman rituals and even Catholic tradition, we get the stirrings of what would eventually become Halloween.
Back in the Old Days
Back in the old days, or once upon a time, in the tradition of fairy tales, there were the Celtic people and their Druid priests. The Druids were believed to have the ability, among other skills, to commune with the dead. Their powers, it was rumored, were much more powerful on the day of Samhain (pronounced sow-en), which was the last day of the year in the Celtic calendar. But, before believing that the Halloween celebration came directly from Samhain, a day mistakenly attributed directly to the Wiccans rather than to the Celts, you must understand that it is a blend of Hallowmas, a celebration of Catholic origins, as well as the Roman festival called Feralia.
On the day of Samhain, the Celtic people would all extinguish their home’s hearth fire. They would gather in front of a blessed bonfire and would sing, dance and listen to the stories that were told during the celebration. At the end of the evening, each person would take some of the bonfire home to relight their heart fire in hopes of ensuring good fortune to their home and family for the coming year. It is said that if your hearth fire would not light from the sacred bonfire, misfortune, even death, would befall someone in the house that very year.
By the 19th century, most of the religious aspects of the Halloween celebration had dwindled away and it was mostly a secular holiday, a gathering of community with only some of the remnants of the past clinging to it like the cobwebs of a haunted house. People would still dress up in costume, but less for the original reason of confusing the dead and more for just plain entertainment and fun. To learn more, please visit All About Halloween.com.