Monsters, zombies, vampires and ghosts? I like Halloween but I’m not a huge fan of anything really scary. I like cute, whimsical and fun.
That could be viewed as a contradiction in terms. Especially as many people consider Halloween to be all about ghouls, blood and frightening beasts.
With this in mind, I wanted to look behind the commercialisation and candy eating, to the real story…
Why do we celebrate Halloween?
The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (SAH-wane).
The ritual of Samhain marked the end of Summer and the start of the long, dark Winter to come. It was a symbol of the boundary between the living and the dead. Times were tough. If you didn’t grow enough crops in the summer to sustain you and your family there were no handouts. You would starve. Being grateful and thankful for being alive was at the heart of everything.
Celtic priests (Druids), would take embers from the sacred village bonfire to light the hearth fire in each house. They believed this would help protect the people and keep them warm throughout the Winter months. Helping them to survive and experience another year.
These cyclical offerings helped to maintain the community and strengthen village bonds. Helping to keep up morale during the most difficult times.
In the Christian calendar, “All Hallows’ Day”, was a day to remember those who had died for their beliefs.
As the Christian church became more powerful, it wanted to turn the people away from their Pagan beliefs. One way was the attempt to assimilate the pagan festival of Samhain into something more acceptable to the Christian church.
During the 8th Century, Pope Gregory had the date of the All Hallows’ feast moved. It was originally celebrated on May 13th but it was moved to November 1st.
Eventually, the evening of Samhain became known as All-hallows-even, then Hallows Eve before being changed to Hallowe’en and now Halloween.
Our modern celebration
It’s easy to see how the old traditions have evolved in to the celebration that we recognise today.
Celebrating the seasons and remembering the Saints and martyrs, became more about spirits and devils.
Zombies, vampires and other creatures have taken centre stage. Candy consumption and commercialisation has become the norm. This week I even spotted Halloween crackers!
I’m not against children having fun. I do actually like the decorations and the dressing up. But within reason.
I don’t agree with gangs of teenagers dressing up and knocking on peoples doors late into the evening. It can be very distressing for the elderly or those who live alone.
Many people believe that Halloween is all about satanic worship and demons. Looking at the hype we are surrounded by it is easy to understand why they think that.
We should focus on the true meaning of Halloween. Reclaim one of our long forgotten traditions and bring people together in these worrying times.
And for those who do celebrate…Happy Halloween!