festivals and traditions

The origin of Halloween

The origin of Halloween goes back to the Celts. They lived in England and for this population the last day of the year on the old pagan calendar was October 31st. This day was called “Samhain”. On the night between October 31st and November 1st, the Druids (Celtic priests) honored Samhain – the god of death.
The Celts thought that on the night of October 31st ghosts came out of their tombs and the spirits of the dead returned on Earth!

Druids made big fires to frighten the spirits. The Celtic people dressed in scary costumes as witches, ghosts and skeletons not to be recognized and taken by the evil spirits.

After the Roman invasion, Samhain became a harvest festival. Rome had a festival honouring Pomona, the goddess of fruit and garden. The Romans pictured her as a beautiful woman with a crown of apples on her head.

So nuts, fruit and apples became part of the Samhain ceremonies. Apples were considered sacred and lucky, and people used to give fruit and vegetables to children according to this Roman tradition. Now this food has become sweets and chocolate.

As a result, the colours of Halloween are orange ( representing the harvest) and black (representing death).
After the Roman invasion, Christian rites substituted pagan rites. For the Christians, the first day of November was the day of All Saints. The evening of October 31st was therefore called “All Allows Eve”. This became Halloween.
In the 20th century, Irish immigrants brought their Halloween costumes to the USA. Now Halloween is one of the biggest festivities in America. The date of Halloween, October 31st, is on every calendar.

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