History of Halloween

Aoife's Links this week focus on a very appropriate seasonal topic: the history of the Halloween holiday, which dates back to the ancient Celtic and Roman civilizations.

Greetings my faithful readers!

This week's Links list is about Halloween and its origins. I think it important to note that several of these Halloween pages have tricky effects for opening themselves, so they load much more slowly, but it is mildly entertaining to wait for the effect. Other neat-scary items abounding this Halloween are the political masks of the Presidential candidates (http://www.politicalmasks.com/). The Horror! For those with young ones, rather than the below sites I reccomend The Teacher's Lounge—Happy Halloween (http://members.tripod.com/~MESword/hween.html) where everything you'll find is politically correct, non-threatening and packed with appropriate halloween fun.

As always, I am presenting this information but it's up to you to decide on its validity. The first site presents some complelling arguments about currently held beliefs about Halloween. In the end, you are the only one who can decide what you believe, however.

Have a terrific day!



Endless Hills, Aethelmearc

Halloween: Myths, Monsters and Devils By W. J. Bethancourt
http://www.illusions.com/halloween/hallows.htm Although copy-protected, and thus not quoted here, this is NOT a religious article, but rather one that sets out to provide us with real history pertaining to Halloween. It spends a fair amount of time de-bunking modern spurious religious beliefs about the origins of halloween, but does present both sides of the story.

History Channel: The History of Halloween
(Site excerpt) To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

Holidayspot's History of Halloween
Despite this connection with the Roman Church, the American version of Halloween Day celebration owes its origin to the ancient (pre-Christian) Druidic fire festival called "Samhain", celebrated by the Celts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Samhain is pronounced "sow-in", with "sow" rhyming with cow. In Ireland the festival was known as Samhein, or La Samon, the Feast of the Sun. In Scotland, the celebration was known as Hallowe'en. In Welsh it's Nos Galen-gaeof (that is, the Night of the Winter Calends. According to the Irish English dictionary published by the Irish Texts Society: "Samhain, All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May, during which troops (esp. the Fiann) were quartered.

History and Customs of Halloween
(Site Excerpt) The Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own. But in the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween.

Neo-pagan's Halloween History
(Site Excerpt) Samhain or "Samhuinn" is pronounced "sow-" (as in female pig) "-en" (with the neutral vowel sound) - not "Sam Hain" - because "mh" in the middle of an Irish word is a "w" sound (don't ask me why, it's just Irish).

Halloween Art, Clip art, Backgrounds, and Effects

History of the Jack-o-lantern
(Site Excerpt) On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets and placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns.

History of Trick-or-Treat
(Site Excerpt) Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge, ii, 370, states that in parts of Count Waterford: 'Hallow E'en is called oidhche na h-aimléise, "The night of mischief or con". It was a custom which survives still in places -- for the "boys" to assemble in gangs, and, headed by a few horn-blowers who were always selected for their strength of lungs, to visit all the farmers' houses in the district and levy a sort of blackmail, good humouredly asked for, and as cheerfully given. They afterward met at some point of rendezvous, and in merry revelry celebrated the festival of Samhain in their own way. When the distant winding of the horns was heard, the bean a' tigh [woman of the house] got prepared for their reception, and also for the money or builín (white bread) to be handed to them through the half-opened door.

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