Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween History

Happy Halloween, or as my good friend Tera always said, "Happy Trick-or Treat".

How much do you know about Halloween and all it's customs? Here are some interesting tidbits that I found out about the history of Halloween.

Historian Nicholas Rogers, notes that while "some folklorist have detected Halloweens origins in the Roman feast of Pomona (goddess of fruits and seeds) it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which means "summer's end".

The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year".

The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the "otherworld" became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through.

It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks, hence the history of dressing up for Halloween.

The practice of commemorating the souls in purgatory with candle lanterns carved from turnips, became adapted into the making of jack-o'-lanterns.

In traditional Celtic Halloween festivals, large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces, and placed in windows to ward off evil spirits.

The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween or trick or treating in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Ontario reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street "guising" on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs.

Another isolated reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, in 1915, in Chicago.