Halloween is one of the oldest customs in the world because it addresses a crucial aspect of what it means to be human: the interaction between the living and the dead. Originating from ancient customs that marked the change from summer to winter, the commemoration came to be associated with transformation a motif that is essential to the festival to this day.
History Of Halloween!
Samhain, pronounced "sow-in," was an ancient Celtic holiday that served as the basis for Halloween. November 1st was the celebration of the New Year for the Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France.
This was the day that summer ended and the harvest began, along with the dark and cold winter that occasionally claimed human lives. The Celts held that the line separating the worlds of the living and the dead blurred on the eve of the New Year. They celebrated Samhain on the evening of October 31, a time when it was thought that the spirits of the deceased made a comeback to earth.
What Do You Know About Samhain?
In the West, Halloween customs have their roots in the Celtic New Year's celebration known as Samhain, which is pronounced "Soo-when," "So-ween," or "Saw-wen" thousands of years ago. The celebration signalled the conclusion of the harvest season and the arrival of winter, thus the name, which means "summer's end".
The Celts felt that this was the period when the curtain between the realms of the living and the dead was the thinnest, allowing the dead to return and stroll in the places they had previously visited. Furthermore, it was the perfect moment for those who had passed away in the previous year but had not yet moved on to say goodbye to the living, for whatever cause.
Like many other pagan celebrations, Samhain was Christianized by the Church, therefore very little is known about its old customs. What little is known comes from the writings of Irish monks who chronicled their people's pre-Christian past and other Christian scribes who disparaged pagan customs.
But it appears that part of the celebration was butchering cattle, storing food for the winter, and getting rid of the bones in "bone fires," which eventually became known as bonfires. While this was happening, there were community get-togethers for eating and drinking, but there was also a consciousness of the "thin time" of the year and the potential for extraterrestrial guests to turn up at the celebration.
It is uncertain how long ago the custom of leaving favourite meals for the deceased began, but many other types of spirits, some of which have never taken on human form, might also make an appearance. Losing loved ones was expected and accepted. Just as likely to make an appearance were sprites, elves, fairies, the "wee folk," and evil forces as those one wished to see one final time.
Why Is Halloween Celebrated On October 31?
The Celts, who mostly resided in what is now northern France, the United Kingdom, and Ireland around 2,000 years ago, felt that the line between the realms of the living and the dead became less distinct on the night that marks the transition from summer to winter. They held that the dead came back to life on October 31st, which subsequently developed into a convenient date for the festival because the Celts observed their new year on November 1.
In the 1920s and 1930s, parades and town-wide Halloween celebrations served as the main attractions for this secular yet community-focused event. Vandalism started to affect several events in many localities at this time, despite the best efforts of numerous schools and towns.
By the 1950s, Halloween had become a mostly youth-oriented festival as local officials had effectively reduced vandalism. As a result of the baby boom of the 1950s, parties were more readily accommodated in homes or classrooms than in local municipal facilities due to the large number of young children.
Trick-or-treating, a centuries-old custom, was also resurrected between 1920 and 1950. A somewhat cheap method for a whole town to participate in the Halloween celebration was through trick-or-treating. Theoretically, families may also avoid being the target of pranks by giving tiny presents to the nearby kids.
As a result, a brand-new American custom was established, and it has since expanded. Today, Halloween is the second-biggest commercial holiday in the United States after Christmas, with an estimated $6 billion spent on it by Americans yearly.
The Theme Of Halloween!
Nevertheless, the festival is still honoured, if somewhat differently, by many Neo-Pagans and Wiccans now than it was in antiquity. Transformation was the main idea of Samhain. The light days of the year gave way to the dark ones; the dead either passed away or entered the afterlife; people assumed the forms of other entities or the appearance of entities; animals were killed and turned into food, while grains, fruits, and vegetables underwent similar transformations for storage in the winter; wood and bone burned in the bonfires as smoke.
Halloween celebrations still revolve around transformation. The individual wearing the mask and outfit assumes a different character from their regular self. One can transform into the Great Pumpkin, a zombie, or Darth Vader for the night. The most well-known and well-liked costumes also mention metamorphosis. A werewolf is a person who transforms into an animal; a vampire can transform into a bat or vanish into smoke; ghosts are individuals who were once humans.