Happy Halloween did you know that it is a pagan festival? Halloween has also been called All Hallows Eve, the eve of All Saints Day. This Christian name, however, hides origins that are far from hallowed
Halloween¹s roots go back to a time long to the ancient Celts who inhabited Britain and Ireland. Using a lunar calendar, the Celts divided the year into two seasons, the dark and the light. On the full moon nearest November 1, the Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain, meaning ³Summer¹s End.
This festival, marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year, came at the end of summer, when the harvest had been gathered and the flocks and` herds had been brought down from pasture into shelter. The Celts believed that as the days shortened, it was necessary to reinvigorate the sun through various rites and sacrifices. In symbolism of the dying old year, all fires were put out, and the New Year was inaugurated with sacred bonfires from which all members of the community rekindled their hearths
It was believed that on the festival of Samhain, the veil between the human and the supernatural worlds was parted and spirits, both good and evil, roamed the earth. The souls of the dead were thought to return to their homes, and families would put out food and drink for their ghostly visitors in hopes of appeasing them and warding off misfortune. Thus, today when children dressed as ghosts or witches go from house to house demanding a Halloween treat or threatening a mischievous trick, they unwittingly perpetuate the ancient rituals of Samhain.
Since people believed that the barriers between the physical and supernatural realms were down, they thought that humans were able to cross over into the spirit world with ease. Samhain was therefore a particularly auspicious time to unlock the secrets of the future. Apples or hazelnuts, both viewed as products of sacred trees, were used to divine information concerning marriage, sickness, and death. That explains apple bobbing – a way to divine who your spouse would be.
Samhain was also characterized by drunken revelry and a casting aside of inhibitions. Halloween still reflects this spirit today, which no doubt accounts to a great extent for its increasing popularity.