Halloween, where did it come from?
A long time ago in a land far far away (Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland) there was a ancient celebration to mark the end of summer and the begining of winter. This was not a one night celebration, it lasted a few days. It was called “Samhain” – you can pronounce this “Sow-en”. Although they were called “Pagans”, a name which most people feels refers to chaos and disorder, the ancient Celts were actually a very ordered society.
At this time of the year, after the crops were gathered, they would preform a necessary, but gruesome task, of slaughtering any excess livestock they had. This would usually be the older animals, and those who were poorly. This meant there would be more animal feed, like hay and grains, to feed the healthy animals, thus ensuring their survival until the next year. This was not “animal sacrifice”, the food was eaten or preserved. Nothing was wasted. These were hard times. The skulls may have been put on stakes as part of a celebration, or to honor the animal, as a thank you for its life.
As the celebrations went on, young men would go from farm to farm, often dressed up, asking farmers for bits of food to prepare a feast. In fact as the time for the feast neared, many people dressed up, often in reversed roles, men as women for example.
They would play mild pranks on each other, this was the one time they had to escape the order that they had the rest of the year. Turnips were often hollowed out to hold candles. Not just for this night, but at any time of the year, more so in the darker winter months.
The celebrations also included “the dead” all the relatives who had passed away in the past year were welcome to join, and were not feared at all. Although now we are told that the ancients dressed up to scare away evil spirits, in truth these people did not fear their dead as we do now. So they had no reason to try to scare them away. They felt their celebrations were helping the dead to “move on”.
Games were played, mostly those invovling foretelling of the future of the children, who might marry who, and such. Bonfires were made and kept lit.
There were no witches, no “evil spells”, these people had enough natural problems to contend with, such as harsh winters, they had no need to invent more woes.
It was not until the early Christians tried to strike the holiday, and were unsuccessful, that the name changed to Halloween. In fact it was changed to “All Hallows Eve”, as the following day was made into “All Hallows Day”