November 1st, is originally Halloween’s special day, yet this endemic is commercialized and celebrated all throughout the month of October up to November and beyond. People of this day-and-age perceive Halloween as kids dressing up in breathtaking little costumes and scary face masks, turning up at doors in small groups bellowing the famous Trick Or Treat cliché. But the meaning of Halloween comes from a time and a place way back and deeper than a mere jar of candy or a cute kid in costume.
It is the archaic celebration of the SPIRITS, a combination of four (4) European Holidays:
Samhain, Feralia, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Days. These four holidays ignite one meaning that is the: ‘Celebration of the Dead,’ which now creates, what is called the highly celebrated season of Halloween which came from the old English term, meaning; All Hollows Eve.
Trick or Treat ?
It is believed that the trick or treat, door to door practice was fashioned, by an evil intention during that era, when the Samhain
Fairies and Goblins would go doors to doors, dressed as beggars, asking for food. Those who gave food were rewarded
pleasantly, and those who did not became subject to a cruel trick or bad spell .
The etymology of Halloween states vividly, that it is the eve of all Saints Day, October 31 and is originally celebrated by the Celtic people, now popular among nations worldwide, including United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The very first stage of Halloween, came about as Samhain, from the Celtic Tribes. These tribal people, dwell in parts of the
world; such as Ireland, United Kingdom and Northern France. Samhain holiday was their New Year, and was seen as the end of the summer, beginning of winter which they celebrate on November 1st. In all of this, death was associated with this end and beginning of time span, so they believed the line between the living and the dead was smeared and the dead came about to roam and torment people of the earth.
The spirits were blamed for sickness, deaths and damage of crops. The Celtics were wary of these upsetting spirits, so they created
bonfires and various costumes to ward off these bad spirits, especially the ones who desire to possess their bodies so if a person was suspected of being possessed, they would be killed immediately. As for the good spirits, they provide meals, that were left on doorsteps enticing them to partake of.
Jack of the Lantern
Another popular practice was to carve radishes and put candles in them. This was done in honor of Jack of the Lantern and symbolizes condemnation of these spirits.
43 AD, the Romans conquered most of the Celtic territory and during the 400 years of reign, the Samhain and the Feralia Holidays formed into one.
Feralia Holidays were celebrated in late October and usually took two days, one Commemorating the Dead, and the other for the goddess Ponoma, Goddess of fruits and trees. During this period, the people of Rome brought offerings to the grave of their Ancestors in the form of wreaths and ornaments. The two holidays merged and later was thought of as the same.
All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day(s)
In the 9th Century, Christianity was becoming wide-spread throughout the Celtic land, with this the ‘All Saints’ Day’
evolved, a day that honored Martyrs, marked for November 1st. Almost immediately, the All Souls’ Day was marked, and set for November 2nd. This day was set in honor of all the dead. The three holidays were combined and later were celebrated in similar fashion, among Celtics, Romans and Catholics for many reasons.
The 19th century show a slightly different light as immigrants came into America from Europe and brought with them their many
different traditions and culture. The Celtics brought their radish carving tradition and after not being able to access radishes, pumpkins were used in place, which symbolizes their ‘Jack O’ Lantern.’
The Americans were fascinated by this and bought into this compelling idea. Before long the Americans honed the skills of dressing up in costumes and went from door to door, which is now known as, the famous ‘trick or treat’ bellow.
As the centuries scrolled out, this holiday; fashioned into a neighborly festivity, where costume parties, concerts, competitions and other events enhanced by the Halloween Holiday influence, were frequently held.
Today Halloween means many things for a widely diverse America and is almost the biggest commercially driven holiday, and
will remain one of the oldest celebrated in America.
Melded with the Celtic and Roman roots, Christian influence and commercialization, Halloween is a culture, a tradition and ritual for many, yet for some it is all about fun and innocent trick or treat.