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by Brett Simpson
Halloween will be on us soon, and so it's good to first take
a look at how this holiday came about and what makes it so
popular today (especially in the United States).
Before Christianity the Celtic pagans held two great Fire
festivals every year - Beltane (on May 1), and Samhain
(November 1) - these two events were meant to mark the
beginning of Summer and Winter. Because the Celtic day
started at Sunset and lasted until the following sunset, the
festival began on the eve o November 1st, or October 31st.
Halloween on October 31st was meant to mark the transition
from Autumn to Winter and was the time of year when the
souls of the departed were supposed to re-visit their old
homes to warm themselves by the fire and enjoy the good
cheer provided for them in the kitchens and parlors of their
The name Halloween was created when 'All Hallows Eve',
the festival of fire and spirit was moved to the SAME DAY as
the pagan festival of Samhain. It is also the night before
the Christian festival of All Hallow's (Saints) Day which
commemorates the Christian Saints and martyrs and is marked
by All Souls Day with prayers for the souls of the dead in
the Roman Catholic Church. All Hallow's Eve or Hallowe'en
was moved from May 13th to November 1st in the 8th century,
most likely to make it coincide with the Celtic pagan
festival of Samhain, so that All Hallows Eve became the
same celebration as Samhain for the Celtic Pagans, and on
the same day!
For the Celtics, the day and evening was one when offerings
of food and drink were put out for the spirits as they
passed by moving from East to West - the direction of the
dying sun. Today the masks and costumes are meant to
symbolize these spirits, or to keep the evil at bay by
scaring away the spirits with the ugly masks. As the
children visit the neighbors for candy and treats - they are
collecting the 'food offerings' that were originally left
for the spirits.
The Jack-o-lantern or (will-o-wisp), sometimes called a
corpse light or candle was originally the mysterious lights
seen hovering over lakes, ferns and marshes. It is said to
represent a person's spirit counterpart or double. The
lights are called 'swamp gas' by scientists and are believed
to be either the ignition of gases from decaying plant or
animal matter, or an optical illusion caused by atmospheric
conditions. They look like small glowing balls of fire or
like candle flames and are associated with the souls of the
dead, or sometimes the wandering souls which cannot find
refuge in Heaven or Hell.
Reprinted from The Dreamtimes *Free Enewsletter,
Copyright(C) 2002, Brett Simpson
Brett Simpson is editor of The Dreamtimes and webmaster of
The Dreamtime website (* http://thedreamtime.com (website gone to the cosmos)*), a free numerology &
astrology website that offers free life path, compatibility, forecast readings
& awareness, spirituality info.
Graphic Design© Webster's Fantsy 2001
In Irish lore, if you are passed by fairies on All Hallow's Eve, you should throw the dirt from your footprint after them, which will force them to free any humans they have taken captive.