Today is Halloween, and it has been one of my favorite holidays since I was a child! I have enjoyed dressing up as different things and carving out pumpkins to put on my front step. I have always felt that Halloween holds a unknown mystical quality. I come from a family rich in Irish heritage but something I was surprised to know, so does my favorite holiday. Halloween or Samhain is an ancient celtic festival. I was stunned that an American tradition that continues today was once started by celts living in Ireland. Impressed an excited I turned to the History website for more insight.
According to the History website the Celts would celebrate Samhain on October 31st which would signify the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It was believed that this day was significant because the line between the living in the dead was the thinnest. The thin veil between both worlds would allow ghosts to return to haunt the living. The celtic priests or druids believed these ghosts would allow them the ability to make predictions about the future. The druids would make sacrifices to the celtic gods and during this celebration the celts wore costumes. The Irish have always been a superstitious lot. My grandmother was very superstitious and would often remind me to be cautious of mirrors or ladders. One superstition believed back then was if the celts were to leave their homes after dark they would encounter ghosts on Samhain. The celts would wear masks and “disguises” so that if they encountered any ghosts they would be considered one of them. The celts also wanted to give spirits that were not malevolent special treats. They would leave food outside along roadways and on their doorsteps.
This is the beginning of what Halloween is today. The Halloween we know and celebrate here in America was brought over during the late nineteenth century by Irish Immigrants. My family among other Irish families fleeing Ireland due to the potato famine brought the custom with them. Americans began to dress up and go from house to house in the early stages of our “trick or treat” and ask for food or money. Between the 20’s and 30’s the day known as Halloween eventually became a holiday that was recognized by communities as a fun experience. The holiday did come with some unfortunate drawbacks. Pranks started to become an issue as well as crimes of vandalism, to help prevent these issues community leaders decided to make Halloween a neighborhood event. The act of handing out candies to appease and help prevent pranks began, and continues today. Its hard to believe that decades ago the ancient celts were having a gathering like many of us will today. We will wear costumes, eat sweets, maybe hope to see a ghost or two and experience the last days of fall.
I hope everyone has a Happy and safe Halloween!! ♥
All the information here was found online at the History.com website for more information on Halloween or how a gourd turned into a carved pumpkin visit:
http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween or http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/jack-olantern-history