I am not exactly a fan of halloween, in fact, I don’t like it at all. I think I just don’t really get it – I mean, dressing up like horrible things and scaring people – What is that about!?
Then again, I’m not much for scary films either – Don’t see the point in scaring myself – Why would I like that? Anyway, I thought, as I’ve read a few blogs today about halloween and what everybody’s up to I thought I would delve into the origins of halloween.
Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while “some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)”, derived from the Old Irish Samuin meaning “summer’s end”. Samhain was the first and by far the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish and Scottish calendar.
There was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen. To ward off these spirits, the Gaels built huge, symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice.
Okay, TIMEOUT! So we’re not doing well here for assuaging my fears that maybe I should just like halloween..hmmmm….
Falling on November 1st and 2nd respectively, collectively they were a time for honoring the Saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach heaven. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day. Even Shakespeare mentions it in his play ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona.’
Initially confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-nineteenth century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the twentieth century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.
So, the way it brings people together is good I guess but I have to admit, from this background I’m far from convinced about the holiday – Isn’t it a bit worrying that horrible things bring humans together? I think so, but at least the kids get a giggle and a few sweeties…
What are your guys thoughts?
p.s. There is a fantastic Farrow & Ball giveaway on Modern Country Style – Go have a look for your chance to win some expensive and simply gorgeous paint!
p.p.s. The text quotes and the pictures are from wikipedia so I don’t claim any rights…