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About Halloween

About Halloween

by Shelly Stokes

Halloween actually began as a new year festival Called Samhain and was celebrated on October 31, marking the end of summer, a major harvest festival, and the beginning of their new year on November 1.

During Samhain, the Irish Celts believed that the veil separating the living from the dead was at its thinnest. Disembodied spirits of those who had died the previous year came back on that night to look for living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living. . So, villagers dressed up in ghoulish costumes, paraded around villages, and were as destructive as possible in order to scare away the spirits.

Belief in spirits began to wane, but many Samhain traditions continued. Children play-acted the part of evil spirits to be appeased, asking for food or treats from house to house. About 700 A.D. the church decided to combat this festival by replacing it with a celebration of eternal life, not death, and honoring saints who had modeled the Christian life, not spirits. November 1 was called All Saints Day, All Souls Day or All Hallowed (hallowed ones) Day. The evening before was called “All Hallows Eve,” which was shortened to Halloween.

An Irish folktale says that a man named Jack tricked the devil up into a tree and then carved a cross into the bark, trapping him. Jack made a deal with the devil, saying that if he never tempted him again, he would let him down. After Jack died, God wouldn’t let him into heaven because of his drunken ways and the devil wouldn’t let him into hell. However, the devil gave Jack a single ember to light his way through the darkness of eternity, which Jack placed inside a hollowed-out turnip. In America, pumpkins outnumbered turnips and so they became “Jack’s lantern.” .

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