Have you ever wondered about the tradition of Halloween? How did it start and why is it still celebrated today? I answer all of this in my article about this special time of year.
It’s Halloween – the celebration the ancient Celts called Samhain. Samhain, means November in the Celtic culture, This marks the Celtic beginning of the New Year and winter. This celebration starts at sunset on October 31 to sunset November 1.
Halloween, one of the most popular holidays around the world, has a rich history that dates back over 2,000 years. Originally known as Samhain, Halloween was a Celtic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. It marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the "darker half" of the year. During this time, it was believed that the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred, allowing spirits to roam freely. To ward off these spirits, people would dress up in costumes and light bonfires.
Over time, the festival was embraced by other cultures and religions, including Christianity. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints' Day, a day to honor saints and martyrs. The evening before, October 31st, was known as All Hallows' Eve, which eventually became Halloween.
Samhain is the Gateway to winter, where the veils are especially thin between these worlds of the seen and unseen. The Celts called the unseen realms the ‘Otherworld’, a place of beauty, rest, and renewal. Samhain is a time in the cycle of the year for slowing down. For connecting to your deep self and resting there in the healing power of your inner nature. It is the turning of the seasons where you can commune with the earth mother’s womb from which all that is created is birthed.
This marks the time to honor the worlds of the seen and unseen – our everyday world, and the worlds of imagination, mystery, and spirit.
Halloween is also a time for honoring your loved ones who have passed. On Halloween you may want to light a candle and recall in your heart the cherished memories of loved ones who are no longer in the physical world.
Or you might simply gather some colorful autumn leaves to place in a bowl on your kitchen counter, to acknowledge what you would like to shed in your life and what you would like to seed deep within you for rebirth and renewal.
Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition
TODAY’S HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS
The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.
Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats. Leave treats on your doorstep to protect yourself from the wandering Spirits and dress in costume to hide from those in Spirit who may try to approach you.
Halloween is one of the most celebrated holidays in America, with Christmas be number one. It even beats out Thanksgiving. I think people enjoy letting go and having fun without any judgments for being who they want to be on that day.
So call it Halloween or Samhain take time to celebrate and enjoy this special time of year.
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