had its origin in the celebration of the Celtic festival of Samhain. The
Celts, who lived in Great Britain, Ireland and France, celebrated the
beginning of their new year on November First. Samhain the Celtic
Lord of Death, it was believed, allowed the dead to return to their
earthly homes for the evening of October 31.
The Druids, Celtic priests
and teachers, built a giant bonfire on the evening of October 31 and believing it to be sacred, made sacrifices of crops and animals. Everyone put out their hearth fires and relit them with a torch from this great bonfire. They dressed in costumes of animal heads and skins and told fortunes about the coming year based on the sacrificed animal remains. The celebration marked the beginning of the cold, barren season of decay and death.
Romans conquered the Celts in 43 A. D. During their 400
year rule they combined two of their festivals with the Festival of Samhain. One festival honored the goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona. Apples may have become associated with Halloween because of this. The second festival called
Feralia, celebrated in late October, honored their dead.
The Catholic Church established
All Saints' Day in the 1800's and celebrated with a mass on November 1. The mass was called Allhallowmas and the evening before became known as All Halloween or Halloween. Later, the Church celebrated November 2 and called it
All Souls' Day.
The mass was a solace for those who feared for the souls of their loved ones who had died.
are hollowed out
with carved faces and lit candles
inside. According to Irish legend, they are named after Jack, a man
denied heaven, as he was a miser and denied hell because he played
tricks on the devil. Jack was doomed to walk the earth with his lit
lantern until Judgment Day.
Fortunetelling is still associated with Halloween celebrations. The old tradition of cooking such objects as a thimble, a ring and a coin in a cake and serving it to guests was one form of fortunetelling. The person who got the coin would find wealth, the ring, marriage and the thimble, no marriage. Today,
Tarot cards, Runes, Palmistry and the reading of Tea Leaves may be used for fortunetelling.
More Halloween traditions include wearing masks and costumes to parties and going out Trick or Treating.
Trick or Treat is the giving of candy or fruits to costumed children who came to your door on Halloween. If you do not pass out treats a trick is played. Bobbing for apples with coins placed inside as prizes, telling fortunes and
ghost stories, toasting marshmallows and carving out Jack O'Lanterns
are all Halloween
(Not that scary