A BRIEF HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN
There are many stories that paint Halloween as a satanic holiday. These stories are false. Halloween is actually the celebration of the ancient Celtic New Year. According to Celtic Mythology, Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) was the night when barriers between the natural and supernatural were removed and spirits could freely move among the living. This was also the night that spirits of those who had died during the past year would be able to pass to then next world.
Why do we give out candy?
Starting in the late 1800’s there was a custom of playing pranks on Halloween. Most pranks were harmless During the 1920’s these pranks had become extremely violent. Neighborhood committees and local groups arranged safer alternatives. Children were encouraged to go door to door and receive treats instead of doing pranks. By 1939, the phrase “trick or treat” could be heard nationwide.
Some say that the tradition of giving candy goes back even further. Since the dead can finally move onto the next world there many spirits traveling that night. Food was placed on the doorstep to provide the ghostly travelers strength on their journey.
During the middle ages groups of poor peasants would travel from house to house in costume to present short plays in hopes of receiving food. This is probably the where the tradition of wearing costumes originated.
Jack o’ Lanterns?
An Old Irish legend tells of a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster. Jack tricked Satan into climbing a tree and then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer. The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally. When the immigrants came to America, they used pumpkins, which were far more plentiful than turnips.
Some believe that a candle should be placed in the window to help guide spirits on their journey. This custom has a lot in common with Jack’s tale.
The history of Halloween has been shrouded in false tales and attempts to make it something it is not. The true origins may never be completely know, but many thanks to those that have taken the time to research and find the truth.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween.
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