Happy Halloween I - The Origin of Halloween

At first, let’s talking about the origin of word “Halloween”: a lot of nations on the eve of Halloween will held a celebration gathering, which also be called "All Hallow E'en", "The Eve of All Hallows", "Hallow e'en", or "The eve of All Saintas' Day ", and last evolved as a convention into "Halloween", in Chinese we call it “the night of Halloween”.

Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom come from? Is it, as some claim, a kind of demon worship? Or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual?

In the Medieval Ages, the central Europe had a history of demolishing heathens, but the sacrifice ceremony before the New Year’s night has never been reclined indeed, and just appeared in the form of wizard. That’s why in today’s Hallowmas, we are still familiar with witch’s brooms, black cats and curses.

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman's Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days.

Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite. It was "he" who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow.

The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year.

One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.

Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic tribes could relight their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach.

Some accounts tell of how the Celts would burn someone at the stake who was thought to have already been possessed, as sort of a lesson to the spirits. Other accounts of Celtic history debunk these stories as myth.

The Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own. But in the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween.

With regard to the origin of Halloween, the most referred legend viewed that Halloween was came from the ancient Western European countries before the birth of Christ, which mainly includes Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These ancient Western Europeans were also called Celtic or Druids. The date of Celtic or Druids’ New Year is on November 1, and in the New Year’s eve, young peoples in Druids were gathered in a team and worn various weird masks, carried carved radish lamps and wandered between villages.

The thrust of the practices also changed over time to become more ritualized. As belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role.

Here is necessary to explain that the pumpkin lamp is a custom appeared lately, and there’s no pumpkin in ancient Western Europe. In fact, the Halloween is a ceremony that celebrated for the autumn’s harvest, and it also was said as a “ghost day", there’s a legend said that the souls of people who dead in the current year will return to visit the world, so live peoples should let the souls returned see the scenery of their successful harvest and give them an abundant feast. So all needfires and lamps were used to scare sway the souls of ghosts, and the same time to illuminate the return road for the ghosts and to guide them back.

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