Origin of Halloween

History of Halloween

Origin of Halloween

Myths, Monsters & Devils

Customs of Halloween

 

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Origin of Halloween

The Druids or the Celts are known to have celebrated eight festivals—Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, and Mabon. These festivals cycled through the year and followed the seasons and harvests as well as the cycle of the moon.

Samhain, is considered the Celt New Year. Following this, Yule marks the Winter Solstice, Imbolc is the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, Ostara is the Spring Equinox, Beltane is between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, Litha is the Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh is between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox, Mabon is the Autumn Equinox.

Relating to Halloweeen, Samhain means ‘sown-in’ or ‘end of summer’ and marked the beginning of a new harvest year. A time that also meant the beginning of winters. As winters were severe and harsh, it also meant a fatal season, and the Celts often linked it with the spirits that had journeyed on. It was a belief that on October 31, the boundary that separated the physical or alive from the dead receded on this day.

 

Samhain was the beginning of the Winter, also known as the Dark Half of the Year owing to early sunset and long nights. Being a day at the edge of summers and beginning of winters, it was considered a supernatural time period. It was a common belief that the dead walked amongst the living, lifting the unknown future, resulting into prophecies and predictions for the future. The Celtic priests who carried out the rituals in open air were called Druids, who inhabited Britain, Ireland, and Gaul.

There are different mythological events related to the day leading to some magical occurrences. It was on a Samhain that the Nemedians captured the Tower of Glass that was constructed by the cruel Formorians. On Samhain, it was believed that the cover between this world and ancestral world fell apart. There were traditions for knowledgeable men to safely make it to the other side. The customs involved communicating with the spirits of the departed. It was a positive ritual where elders were always honoured and seen as the source of wisdom and guidance. It was a dark phase as the moon could not be seen in the sky and it became easier to travel to other worlds.

With the occult of Christianity, the festival was christened as Hallowe’en, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The origin of the festival hence has very deep Pagan roots. We can clearly see that Halloween was linked with Celtic Gods and Goddesses and with the worship of the Ancestors. It is believed that in the Old Norse religion, at the same time of the year, during an event known as álfablót (elven blot) some sacrifices were made to the elves as they were believed to be connected to ancestors.

The rites, rituals and customs followed in every Celtic region are different. A few common customs can be associated like bonfire, fortification of limits that ensure that wandering spirits do not cross over and create trouble for the social life. The Samhain festival in old times also marked a sombre and careful beginning of winters, as preserved food was needed to last through the severe winter season.

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