2014-OCT-25 [SAT] 17:44 (PMT) - THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN
2014-OCT-25 [SAT] 17:44 (PMT) Table Of Contents
The History of Halloween 2014-10-25 05:44 PM PST
Halloween, in all its different forms, has been celebrated for at least three thousand years, starting with the Celtic tribes, located in what is now present day Ireland, as their way of appeasing those who had died before them, or something along those lines.
The time chosen for this celebration was significant because it was at that time of year when the harvest season had ended and winter was right around the corner. Winter symbolized death to them (the Celts), and we kind of get it, because if we had been around at the time, and only knew what they knew, we would have both thought the same thing. Winter symbolizes death, but Dave even goes further by putting his own spin on the whole death thing. To him, it just made sense that they would think that when life (summer, or harvest season) changed over into death (symbolized by winter) that the worlds between life and death would also be open and the dead could once again roam about amongst the living and cause mischief. And it also made sense to him that they would chose this time of the year (the end of October) as the best time to remember those who went before them. It was also a scary time, because no one knew what death really was, it was a time when the imagination ran wild, and for some reason, the consenses was that for some reason, the dead weren't friendly and that they were there to "trick" the living into crossing over into the world of the dead, and they figured that if they left them offerings or "treats" outside the village that would stop them or somehow divert their attention so that they wouldn't go into the village and do "tricks" and cause trouble for their families, like trying to drag them into the world of the dead, and hopefully they could divert their attention long enough for that time to pass and the dead could no longer try to "trick" the living.
And that's why halloweeners today say, "trick or treat" in many of the places that still continue to celebrate Halloween, but of course, no one's really trying to drag anyone into the world of the dead. That only happens in the movies... we hope anyway, but we have heard rumours about that kind of thing really happening, so I guess we'll have to look a little closer at those rumours some day, some day.
At least that's how Dave sees it, and I got that same impression while doing my own research which was basicly watching the DVD, "The Haunted History of Halloween", with Dave. We've also read through most of the webpages listed in our Related Webpages list below, so this is not going to be a cut and paste job.
We used the DVD as a way to write a general outline, which we've included at the end of this blog post. It's just a quick list of notes Dave took while we watched the DVD. We'll use that as our general outline, and of course, We'll be adding our own little twist to what's considered accepted history. In other words, we're going to do a little speculating.
ONE WORD OF WARNING. We are a big believer in having others double-checking our work, so we highly suggest that you always go back and read our sources yourself. Never take our word for anything. Always check for yourself to make sure our information is accurate.
Now I know we said this wasn't going to be a cut and paste job, but Wikipedia explains Irish Mythology and it's relation to early Irish Literature and how it all ties together with the birth of Halloween, that we decided to just cheat a little bit, and post three of them below.
Anyway, like we wrote earlier, the beginnings of Halloween can be traced back 3,000 years to what is now Ireland. It was celebrated by the Celts and called Samhain. Here's a little something about that from Wikipedia, just to get us started.
"Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, or about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, and later the Isle of Man and Scotland. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany)... "
According to Wikepedia, the celebration of Samhain (Halloween) is known to predate the Christian religion by around a thousand years. Of course we have to take Wikipedia at its word here, at least until we get a hold of this literature and read it for ourselves and than verify the dates, but for now, we'll assume it's true.
Which brings us back to 3,000 years ago when a lot of the Irish Mythology at the time was built around the celebration of Samhain, that they either happened on, or began on that day.
It was also the time when the cattle were brought down from their summer grazing grounds and also when the livestock was slaughtered to get ready for the long winter months ahead.
And also according to the Wikipedia page on Irish mythology, there isn't a whole lot of the original literature specifically about Irish mythology still out there, but (and the following dates are our estimations and not Wikipedia's) you can still read a lot about it in plain old Irish Literature (written around 1000 AD), which is easier to find today than books about Irish Mythology (written about 1000 BC).
"The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity. However, much of it was preserved in medieval Irish literature, though it was shorn of its religious meanings. This literature represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branches of Celtic mythology. Although many of the manuscripts have not survived and much more material was probably never committed to writing, there is enough remaining to enable the identification of distinct, if overlapping, cycles: the Mythological Cycle, the Ulster Cycle, the Fenian Cycle and the Historical Cycle. There are also a number of extant mythological texts that do not fit into any of the cycles. Additionally, there are a large number of recorded folk tales that, while not strictly mythological, feature personages from one or more of these four cycles... "
It then talks about the main sources for Irish mythology.
"The three main manuscript sources for Irish mythology are the late 11th/early 12th century Lebor na hUidre which is in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, the early 12th century Book of Leinster in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Rawlinson manuscript B 502 (Rawl.), housed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Despite the dates of these sources, most of the material they contain predates their composition. The earliest of the prose can be dated on linguistic grounds to the 8th century, and some of the verse may be as old as the 6th century... "
What that all means, to us anyway, is that those are the books we have to get and read to verify the Irish mythology connections. We like reading the original literature on anything we research. We believe, the original source is always the best source.
Anyway, during Samhain,
3,000 years Ireland Celtic tribes Rocky green fields Britain Northern France At the mercy of the elements celts asked to last day of the harvest first day Souls roamed the Earth November Samhain nights appease parade outskirts of village leave offerings attempt to keep the dead in their graves Samhain the best night of the year to predict the future since the Earth gave so much of itself to them, it only polite to offer something back mysterious celtic mounds were called fairy mounds romans hamona a festival to honor her conquered northern europe bringing the festival with it At the dawn of the millenium was dominated by paganism that was soon to change Constantine 4th century vision on the battlefield and converted to Christianity council of Nicea leaving fruits including apples out for offerings this is in fact where the tradition of bobbing for apples originated early christians attacked pagan beliefs which they saw as align with the forces of evil which were opposed to the forces of good Pope gregory I 600 AD turning them away from their paganism beliefs was not an easy task the pagan practices were grafted onto the practices of the church Nov 1 All Saints Day Oct 31, All Hallows Eve morphed into Halloween een being a bastardization of Eve 10th century one step further Nov 2 All Souls Day Cats, bats, owls (familiars) were the spiritual forms of witches worst of paganism was witchcraft 1400s witches were hunted down and punished 1486 Pope Innocent 8th wrote a book which proved a direct link between witches and the devil St Joan of Ark was also burned at the stake as a witch Guy Falke's day 1605 blow up the House of Lords Mexico's day of the dead celebration tell stories of the dead at gravesites 1517 catholic Church was undergoing immense changes Puritans in America were bitterly opposed to Halloween. Too pagan Early 1800s play parties halloween got its biggest boost when Irish began swelling the shores of America Late 19th century pumpkins were easier to carve than the turnip was in Ireland WWI broke out in 1919 newspapers began focusing on real news of substance rather than just for entertainment 1930s 1,000 windows broken in Queens on Halloween Halloween pranks kill 3 Anoka, Minnesota Halloween capital of the world first social halloween event Collages of junk on people's houses tp a house WWII second world war broke out giving out candy was frowned upon in many places, Halloween was canceled after the war this new geeration embraced halloween you could only win prizes from a local radio station if you were home by 30 minutes after the halloween party ended groups of contemporary covens (pagans) Halloween is one of their more important holidays If you cut an apple in half you can a representation of the 5-point star sacred symbol of the harvest is the apple Children began trick or treating and going to halloween parties 1970s, 80s Detroit thousands of buildings were set a fire orgy of arson devil's night 1970s rumours of razor blades and poisons in candy and fruit some razor blades were found but no one ever died children were poisoned, but not by strangers, but members of their own family Safety became a byword of Halloween popular culture (Hollywood) didn't help dispel those fears lately it's becoming more and more of an adult holiday haunted houses 2.5 billion dollars 2nd only to Christmas