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History of Halloween

Halloween can be traced back to ancient pagan Celtic times in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Brittany. Samhain (which means the lord of the dead) is the name of the pre-Halloween festival which marked the end of the Celtic harvest season. During the Samhain festival, the pagan participants stocked up on food and supplies for the fast approaching winter. The pagan Celtics believed that dead souls (of those who had died that year), ghosts, witches and demons entered the human realm on October 31. These unwanted visitors were thought to cause mayhem and destruction among the living. The dead souls were believed to be in purgatory and came back on that night in search of a living body to posses. This was thought to be their only chance at getting out of limbo. The pagans also blamed the ghouls for unpleasant occurrences such as ruined crops and illnesses that plagued them. In an attempt to properly protect themselves, the people made masks and costumes which they wore on Samhain night in order to disguise and camouflage themselves from the spirits. The masks and costumes were designed to mirror the spirits frightening images. They also protected themselves by lighting huge bonfires that were supposed to frighten away the evil menacing spirits.

Centuries later, the Catholic Church wanted to change the unholy pagan ritual day into a Christian holiday. The Church also hoped that doing so would allow the Church to convert pagan Samhain believers into Christians. In the year 835 BC, Pope Gregory IV moved the observance day for martyrs (currently known as All Saints Day) from May 13, to November 1. In correlation with All Saints Day, the Church named October 31 All Hallows Even, which is the eve of the day that the Church celebrates the dead souls of saints. The church's aim was to get the pagans to venerate the good souls of saints, instead of celebrating pagan beliefs on Samhain. The Church later shortened the name All Hallows Even to Halloween.

Nadia Hickerson
Fri, 04 Jun 2010 06:25:35 +0000

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