By: A. Hemnani
Is that really a question? It's crucial that we celebrate Halloween! It's one of the most important days of the year. It is a day everyone looks forward to: people can't wait to put on a costume and party or even trick or treat. The taste of that delicious Halloween candy is all the little children (and the dentists) can think of until Halloween returns. Year after year, the same, never-ending cycle continues. But wouldn’t you like to know how this long-standing tradition began?
It all started on a dark and spooky night... Just kidding. Halloween truly began in the historic Samhain festival of the Celts. The Samhain festival was one of the most important Celtic celebrations.
The Celts lived around 2,000 years ago in what is known today as Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France. On November 1st they celebrated the beginning of their new year. On this day, the happiness and joy that came with summer was swooped away as the misty winter wind came along. To the celts, on the night before the new year, the line separating the living from the dead becomes hazy. The evening of October 31st, they observed Samhain, a time when it was thought that the spirits of the dead made a comeback to the planet, hence the spookiness of Halloween.
Druids constructed enormous sacred bonfires to serve as a reminder of the occasion, and people gathered around them to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. The Celts attempted to tell fortunes to one another while dressing up in costumes made typically of animal heads and skins.
By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of the Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
Now that you know more about the origins of your favourite spooky holiday, you can let that inspire the way you celebrate this year. You may even have a different idea for your costume – just don’t go dressed in animal heads or you really won't get any candy.