Halloween – Its History and Significance


Halloween or also known as Allhalloween is a celebration observed in several countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

History of Halloween

Halloween began as the festival of Samhain. It was part of the ancient Celtic religion in Britain and other parts of Europe.

Most scholars agree on Halloween as we know it started some 2,000 years ago when Celtic people in Europe celebrated the end of the harvest and the start of a new year in a festival called Samhain. It was also a time of communing with otherworldly spirits, with big bonfires lit in honor of the dead, according to the American Folklife Center.

When the Romans had conquered most Celtic territory by 43 A.D., they brought their own fall festivals with them, according to History. Their October celebration called Feralia also commemorated the passing of the dead.

Fast forward a few centuries, and even more, changes arrive. Several Christian popes attempted to replace “pagan” holidays like Samhain with events of their own design. By 1000 A.D., All Souls’ Day on November 2 served as a time for the living to pray for the souls of the dead. All Saints’ Day, assigned to November 1, obviously honored saints but it was also called All Hallows. That made October 31 All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween – the day before All Saints’ Day on 1 November.

Significance of Halloween

People celebrate it by dressing up in costumes and collecting free candies. But in addition to free candy, spooky costumes, and ghoulish decoration, Halloween has something more. A deeper spiritual significance is associated with this celebration.

It is also considered as a powerful turning point in the wheel of the year, signifying the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. As per the wheel of the year cycle, Samhain or Halloween was the period of death.

It is believed that during this time the veil between the realms of living and dead becomes thinnest.

One of the reasons is due to the vibrations of the date 111. If you carefully look at each digit as a pillar, you can see that the middle pillar symbolizes the veil between the two worlds.

Halloween is the time when people release and let go of negative and lower energies that hold them back and celebrate the new energy that will eventually take its place. It is very important because, at this time people go to a Halloween party where alcohol is served, watch a scary movie or maybe attend a haunted house or some other place where the fear energies are being generated.

People associate Halloween with fear. But it is not a festival of fear, rather it is an opportunity to welcome the unknown, release negativity, and bring a little extra intuition into everyday life.

Who celebrates Halloween?

Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, is still celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe.

In countries such as Ireland, Canada, and the United States, adults and children alike revel in popular Halloween holiday, which derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals. Traditions including costume parties, tricks or treating, pranks, and games.

It all began in Ireland, where Halloween originated. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts, and all over the country, children get dressed up in costumes and spend the evening “trick or treating” in their neighborhoods.

Why is Halloween celebrated?

At Samhain, the Celts had big bonfires and feasts and people would wear costumes. They’d all come together to celebrate the end of the harvest and the beginning of the long, cold, dark winter. And part of the celebration of Samhain was thinking about people who came before them, people who had died.

It sounds a little bit like modern-day Halloween.

Professor Hansen helps bridge the gap.

“These various people were celebrating their harvest or death festivals,” she explains. “And what happened was the introduction of Christianity, which had its own traditions which also had to do with honoring those who came before.”

“When the Christians came to what is now Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, they brought with them their traditions and got mixed up with the Celtic tradition of Samhain. And a similar thing happened in Latin America when the Christian missionaries came to those countries.”

One of the ways the Christians tried to get these new people to become Christians was to kind of blend these other holidays, pagan holidays, into Christian traditions. Christians celebrated something called All Saints Day on November 1st, honoring people who had gone to Heaven.

Halloween Celebrations

Samhain means “summer’s end” and marks the beginning of winter. Samhain is also thought to celebrate the beginning of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that Samhain was a time when the dead could walk among the living.

Trick-or-treating began in areas of the United Kingdom and Ireland. People went house-to-house “souling” – asking for small bread called “soul cakes” in exchange for prayer.

Adults also went door-to-door asking for food and drinks in exchange for a song or dance.

Jack-o’-lanterns are the symbol of Halloween. People in Ireland and Scotland originally used beets or turnips as lanterns on Halloween.

An Irish legend says that jack-o’-lanterns are named for a man called Jack who could not go to heaven or hell and was forced to walk the earth forever with only a coal from hell to light his lantern.

The name jack-o’-lantern can also be derived from the night watchman who would light the street lanterns every evening.

A traditional food eaten on Halloween is a barn rack, a kind of fruit cake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be we’d; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way.

Children are also known to play tricks on their neighbors, such as “knock-a-dolly” a prank in which children knock on the door of their neighbors, but run away before the door is opened.

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