HALLOWEEN: A HISTORY
As the hours move us forward to Samhain or Halloween, I thought I might write a few paragraphs on ‘Halloween a History’ to dispel any misconceptions which have arisen over the past few centuries.
Halloween or Samhain pronounced sah-win is a festival of Gaelic origin. It was first documented around the 10th Century and took place at the end of summer and the beginning of winter, which is around the 31st of October. This festival was celebrated by Celtic, Scottish and Irish clans.
Samhain, celebrated the end of summer with plentiful crops, and the eve of winter a dark time for most. According to Celtic folklore, it was also a time when the gateway to the otherworld was opened and spirits of those who passed were able to revisit the world and their kin. People put out food for their loved ones which is similar to the Hindu festival Pitr Paksha still celebrated today.
It was also believed that on Samhain the fay or sidhe mounds where opened allowing the fair folk to roam the world unhindered. Some documentation speaks of sacrifices to these sidhe, but others state cattle were slaughtered in preparation for winter. Similar to today, Samhain was celebrated with feasting, disguises and bonfires. The disguises were for people to hide from the other worldly creatures, whereas today the opposite seems true. Nevertheless people marked the festival then and now, by knocking on doors in disguise and relaying rhymes in exchange for food. Which was mostly nuts and apples at the time in contrast to the candy/sweets of today.
The festival was also a time for divination and preparation for the cold months ahead, lucky for us this is not really necessary today, however Wiccans still celebrate the day with divination. In hope I have made clear Samhain to those of you confused by all the stories out there. I would like to wish you all A Happy Halloween and I hope you have stocked your pantry with treats (like me) rather than have the dreaded trick inflicted on you.
Acknowledgements to : Wikipedia for information and sallydubats.com for image