Halloween Roots and Traditions Unveiled

The historic tradition and customs of Halloween, though fairly well debated, are generally attributed to the Celts of ancient Europe. Lots of evidence has been adduced to convince scholars that the land of the Celts could have been the cradle of this world famous holiday. The scribes unveil that the holiday of Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays in the history of mankind. It is indeed said to date back to the days referred to as, in historical terms, pagan days. Such days as the world were led by its own devices. Man then was at the mercy of fellow man and religion had not taken effect.

Halloween is in fact older than Christianity. In the ancient pre-Christian Celtic communities, the dead were honored. This is perhaps what marks the close association of the festivities with the Celts. The Celts are said to have divided their year into four major holiday seasons. Halloween was one of these. It appears the holidays followed the climatic seasonal changes through the year. Halloween in particular fell on the 1st of November. For the Celts, this was the time to bring their herds to graze and breed closer home. It was a day that effectively marked the beginning of the winter season; a harsh period of the year in which all had to be secured for the tough period. Crops were also harvested at this time.

This day was symbolic to the Celts because it was viewed to mark the end of one season as another begins in the life cycle of the human race; at least in the world of the Celts. The Celts are said to have lived many years ago in what is now called Ireland, France and the United Kingdom. November 1st was a large festival also referred to as Samhain or All Hollows Eve. It was believed that during the time of the Samhain, the souls of those who died during the year would begin their travel down to the underworld. It was also strongly believed that the spirits would wake and mingle with the living as they prepared to set on their journey downwards.

Lord Samhain, who was the Lord of darkness in the Celtic belief system, visited at this time to assist the awakened sprits find their way to the underworld. Fires were lit and sacrifices offered to aid the spirits in their journey. Offering of animal, vegetable, seed and fruit was made in honor of the dead. The fire is also said to have been used as a protection against any possible attacks from wayward creatures since it was believed that this was the day all manner of beings were on the prowl. The entire package from the dreaded land of the dead was at large and one couldn’t quite tell or completely control their activities as they moved about the land of the living without restrain.

Later, the Celts were conquered by the Romans. This was around the year 43 A.D. For over four hundred years, the Romans ruled the Celts in their lands and came to incorporate some of the major Celtic festivals with the Roman ones. In particular, two celebrations of the Romanian people were joined with the Celtic holidays particularly, the Samhain. The Romans traditionally observed a holiday dedicated to the dead sometime in late October. This roman festival was referred to as Feralia. Another important roman festival that was incorporated with the Samhain was the one in which the roman goddess of trees and fruit was honored. The advent of Christianity saw the transformation of the Samhain into its modern Halloween fashion.

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