The Haunted History of Halloween
Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins, and some Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with the sunrise at the time of Samhain. It is first mentioned in the earliest Irish literature, from the 9th century, and is associated with many important events in Irish mythology. The early literature says Samhain was marked by great gatherings and feasts, and was when the ancient burial mounds were open, which were seen as portals to the Otherworld. Some of the literature also associates Samhain with bonfires and sacrifices.
The festival did not begin to be recorded in detail until the early modern era. It was when cattle were brought down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered. As at Beltaine, special bonfires were lit. These were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, and there were rituals involving them. Like Beltaine, Samhain was a liminal or threshold festival, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld thinned, meaning the Aos Sí (the 'spirits' or 'fairies') could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of pagan gods. At Samhain, they were appeased with offerings of food and drink, to ensure the people and their livestock survived the winter. The souls of dead kin were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality, and a place was set at the table for them during a Samhain meal. Mumming and guising were part of the festival from at least the early modern era, whereby people went door-to-door in costume reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. Divination was also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples. In the late 19th century, John Rhys and James Frazer suggested it was the "Celtic New Year", but this is disputed.
In the 9th century, the Church had shifted the date of All Saints' Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls' Day. Over time, it is believed that Samhain and All Saints'/All Souls' influenced each other, and eventually syncretised into the modern Halloween. Folklorists have used the name 'Samhain' to refer to Gaelic 'Halloween' customs up until the 19th century.
Since the later 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Samhain, or something based on it, as a religious holiday.
Selected Halloween Timeline & Trivia
43 ADAfter four centuries of Roman rule, additional celebrations were added to the Celtic festival of Samhain. One was a day to honor the Pomona, Roman goddess of fruit and trees. As the symbol for this goddess is the apple, it is commonly believed that from this festival came the tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween
609 ADAll Martyrs Day, a day to honor all saints and martyrs, became a tradition in the Roman church each November 1.
1000 ADThe Roman church dedicated November 2 as All Souls Day in honor of the dead. This day was celebrated with dressing up in devil, angel and saint costumes, and with bonfires and parades. All Saints Day celebration was also referred to as All-hallows and the night before began to be called All-hallows eve which eventually became Halloween.
1556The tradition we now call trick-or-treating has its beginnings in a three day event called Allhallowtide. These three days span the eve of All Saints Day into All Souls Day during which the participants dress in black to mourn the dead. This also begins the practice of “souling” in which peasants go door-to-door begging for food and treats given out in memory of the dead.
1600sHalloween is banned by the Puritans of New England, because they consider it a Catholic holiday. Then, for the next 200-plus years, Halloween is celebrated primarily by Catholics and Episcopalians.
1700sMany of the traditions still associated with Halloween today begin to develop. Celebrants begin to dress up and go door-to-door singing for treats, turnips are turned into lanterns, and tricks are frequently played on others to imitate the hijinks of evil spirits.
LATE 1800sIrish and Scottish immigrants, fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, arrive en masse to America and bring with them their Halloween traditions, making the celebration more popular.
EARLY 1900sHalloween becomes a more secular holiday, with the focus taken away from witchcraft and ghosts and instead placed on family and friend get-togethers, parties and parades.
1921The first officially-sanctioned Halloween celebration is held in Anoka, Minnesota. Over the next several years, more cities follow suit.
1930sCostumes began to appear in shops, thus making Halloween a truly mainstream, money-making holiday.
1966Charlie Brown gets more tricks than treats in the now iconic Halloween cartoon, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
1978The first movie of a horror movie franchise, Halloween, is released, and Michael Myers becomes an evil mascot for the holiday.
2004The use of silly string on October 31 is banned from the city of Hollywood, California, with violators facing a $1,000 fine.
2010Too old? Trick-or-treaters in Belleville, Illinois, who are over the age of 12 are banned from going door-to-door, facing fines from $100 to $1,000.
20141.31 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced by the states of Illinois, California, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
2016American consumers spent $8.4 billion on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations and other products. The average person will spend almost $45 for Halloween garbs and goodies. For a holiday that doesn’t feature a big dinner or have a focus on gifts, that’s a whole lotta pumpkin.
- A STORY FOR HALLOWEEN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=9vrQIS0C5Xw
- A HISTORY OF THE MORRIGAN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm1TM_6Gqo8
- A BRIEF OVERVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Gxkjxle6MA