Halloween is a time of celebration and of superstition. It lies between the plenty of summer an and paucity of winter and between life and death. It is thought to have originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived in the area that is now Ireland, United Kingdom, and northen France celebrated their new year on November 1st. This marked the end of summer and of the harvest, and the beginning of the cold, dark winter which was often associated with human death. On the night of October 31st, the festival of Samhain was celebrated. It was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. These spirits caused trouble and damaged the crops. The Celts thought that the presence of otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids (Celtic priests) to make predictions about the future. "For people who were totally dependant on the volatile natural world, these phrophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long dark winter," so say the Halloween experts. To commerate this event, the Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the townspeople gathered to burn crops and animal sacrifices to the Celtic deity. During the celebration, the people wore costumes, generally of animal heads and skins. They told each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires. which they had distinguished earlier in the evening, using the flame from the sacred bonfire. This, they thought, would protect them during the coming winter.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory designated November 1 as a day to honor all saints and martyrs. The evening before (October 31st by our calendar) was called All Hallows' Eve, which later evolved into Halloween. Over the years, Halloween has transformed from a religious festival to a secular holiday with community-based events and child-friendly activities like trick-or-treating. In many countries, where late October's weather is chilly and nights grow longer, Halloween usher's in the coming winter season with bonfires, costumes, and sweet treats....much as it did in the the days of Samhain.
Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mytery, magic, and superstition. Today's Halloweeen ghosts are depicted as fearsome and malevolent. But in early times, however, some ghosts were believed to be friendly, especially the ghosts of deceased friends and family members. Places were even set for them at the family dinner table, treats were left for them on the doorstep, and roadways were lit with candles to help their loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.
I love Halloween and really get into the spirit of the holiday. Its a fun, family event where we can all participate and have a good time. Quigley, jr. likes to "bob" for worms and often wins the local contest. I hope that whatever activities you have planned for the weekend, they include time spent with family. This is a bountiful time of year and there are so many fun, fall festivies to enjoy; farmer's markets, pumpkin patches, an decorating for Halloween, to name a few.
I hope to see you back here on Monday. Have a wonderful and safe weekend!