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A brief history of Halloween Featured

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A brief history of Halloween

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back to about two thousands of years. Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival, the Celtic festival of Samhain and marked the end of the “season of the sun” and the beginning of “the season of darkness and cold.”To celebrate Samhain they built huge sacred bonfires. People sacrificed animals and offered part of their harvest to the gods to help protect them.
Rome conquered the Celtic land and inhabited it for 400 years. As a result, the Romans added Celtic traditions to their own. They integrated two Roman pagan festivals into the festivities of Samhain — “Parentalia” and “Feralia”. Both festivals honored the dead ancestors.

“Apple bobbing” is a game often played on Halloween, usually by children. It is said that the origin of this game can also be Roman. Apple bobbing is also said to have begun with the worship of Pomona, the ancient Roman goddess of fruits, fruit trees and gardens in whose honor an annual festival was supposedly held every November first. The game is played by filling a tub or a large basin with water and putting apples in the water. Players then try to catch one with their teeth without using their arm.

In the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III moved the celebration date to November 1st. He also expanded the feast to include all saints, not just martyrs, calling it “All Saints Day” or “All Hallows Day.” Eventually, the night before All Hallows Day became All Hallows Eve — Halloween.


Halloween & Jack O’ Lantern History

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. This practice originated from an old Irish legend about a farmer nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Jack, a stingy farmer, invited the Devil to have a drink with him at a tavern. Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern”. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.

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Read 2538 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 October 2017 09:44

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