The festival of “All Hallows Eve” or the more ancient named “Samhain” celebrates the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half”, and is sometimes regarded as the “Celtic Briton’s New Year”. Halloween and other pagan festivals were celebrated by the Celtic Briton and Irish Tribes 2,000 years ago and over the centuries the festivals were renamed by the Catholic Church.
The ancient Celtic Britons believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces. Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.
Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us.
This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.
Another common practice was divination, which often involved the use of food and drink.
The name ‘Halloween’ and many of its present-day traditions derive from the Old English mists of time.
Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. When the English first arrived in Colonial America and the many other countries of the Commonwealth they brought with them the “All Hallows Eve” Celebration with the associated traditions ( Like Apple Dipping and Pumpkins ). During the following centuries the English had started to lose the traditions of Halloween ( Except by the Traditional Pagan followers ) until wartime Britain, when many American GI’s based in England re-introduced the Halloween Celebrations to the British.
Halloween in the United States has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations. This larger American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Europe, to Japan under the auspices of the Japanese Biscuit Association, and other parts of East Asia.