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Spirit of Halloween

The spirit of Halloween!.

Halloween is celebrated every year on October 31st. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival Samhain.  It was part of the ancient Celtic religion in Britain and other parts of Europe. At the end of summer, the Celts thought the barrier between our world and the world of spirits became very thin. So the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was thinnest, and this meant the spirits could most freely intermingle pass over to our world.

It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off spirits. To outsmart these ghostly beings, people would put on masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would think they were fellow spirits. Then in the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all of the Saints, so All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain

Wiccans look at Samhain as the passing of the year, and incorporate common Wiccan traditions into the celebration. In the Druid tradition, Samhain celebrates the dead with a festival on October 31 and usually features a bonfire and communion with the dead

The pumpkins we carve date back to the jack-o'-lantern which have a long history with Halloween, although the scary faces we carved out of pumpkins has an origin which comes from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain. The original jack-o'-lanterns were carved from turnips, potatoes or beets. Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavoury figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell.

Samhain is pronounced “sah-win” or “sow-in.”Rituals surrounding Samhain include bonfires, dancing, feasting and building altars to honour deceased ancestors. Some pagans bake special loaves of Samhain bread and leave offerings to the spirits outside their homes. It is also a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.

The real birthplace of Halloween is Ireland, where an ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain has been celebrated for over 2,000 years

Not only do these 2,000 years separate us from those who celebrated it, but there’s also the what happened when the Roman Empire invaded.

The ancient Celts had no written language, and their stories, legends, and traditions were passed down orally—through spoken words. And so when they were overtaken by their enemies their legends died along with their language.

The Romans, who conquered the Celts around 43 A.D., were the ones who recorded and presented Celtic traditions to the rest of the world. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st, the day which marked the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter’s icy approach.

To commemorate this day, they would build huge bonfires, from which they would later light the smaller fires in their homes in symbolic protection from the coming cold. Some communities would build two bonfires, walking between the two towering stacks of flame with their livestock in a cleansing ritual. Samhain was a time representing the tipping point between bounty and scarcity, between rise and decline, and between life and death. But this wasn’t a morbid time—rather, it was a time to honour and respect the dead, and seek protection from winter’s icy fingers.

On this day, they also feasted on harvested food, and slaughtered animals for the winter. Some would also wear animal skins and heads as costumes and play pranks. This was a great celebration, one full of joy and merriment.

Eventually, the Celtic traditions of Samhain were absorbed by the Catholic Church, becoming All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, which fell on November 1st and 2nd. The customs of these holidays included dressing up in costumes and going from door-to-door, begging for special “soul-cakes” in return for prayers.

Back in the 1930’s this is when custom party’s started and by 1950 in America the tradition of trick or treat started.

So enjoy your Samhain however you celebrate

Best wishes Jacqui x

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