It’s time for Halloween

2017-10-25 06:00

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HALLOWEEN celebrated on October 31, has roots in age-old traditions, dating back to the Celtic festival of Samhain.

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in Ireland, UK, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1, which marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year often associated with human death.

They believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and on that night ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

Feralia in October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead and then a day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.

By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In America, it became the tradition to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

The tradition of “trick or treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England when poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

On Halloween, it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, So to avoid being recognised by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits, which led to the modern theme of dressing up on this occasion.

One of the most popular features of Halloween is the carved pumpkin. According to Irish legend there was a drunk, Stingy Jack who took pleasure in playing tricks on everyone. One day, he tricked the devil into climbing up an apple tree and then Stingy Jack placed crosses around the trunk of the tree.

Unable to touch a cross, the devil was stuck in the tree. Stingy Jack made the devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. He removed the crosses, and the devil climbed down out of the apple tree. Many years later when Jack died he was not allowed to enter heaven or hell and wandered forever in the netherworld between.

The devil tossed him an ember from the flames of hell, to help Stingy Jack light his way. Jack hollowed a turnip, and placed the ember inside the turnip. From that day he roamed Earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his “Jack O’Lantern”.


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