Halloween – Samhain in Disguise

Halloween is based on the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This festival took place between the bounties of a fall filled with harvest and plenty; and the winter where hardship, short days and long cold nights would be the norm. This was the last celebration before day-time was short and the nights were long. In ancient times, winter was a dangerous time when lack of food and disease would stalk the people. Death was common, but winter was especially precarious.

Samhain was celebrated with bonfires, feasting, and other various activities. There was the belief that at Samhain the veil between the living and the dead was thinned.  Bonfires were lit in order to ward off the roaming ghosts that could kill the unwary. Once full dark fell, people were encouraged to stay either near the fires, or indoors. Gluttony, drunkenness and debauchery went along with the festival.

As this celebration continued past Catholic times, the church sought to Christianize it by creating All Hallows’ Eve. The Church stated that this was to be a time of honoring saints and martyrs. However, like most of the Churches decrees, the people retained some of the Pagan aspects of the festival. Eventually All Hollows’ Eve evolved into Halloween and lost its Christian overtones. Now we simply celebrate by dressing up and eating candy. Is Paganism in our bones?


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