What do witches do on Hallows eve (October 30th) and Halloween?
BWC Answer: Part A
Goblins and ghosts, witches and brooms, Vampires and bloody fangs, kids, and candies… We are on the brink of yet another Halloween celebration. While you are still searching for the perfect costume to make this year’s Halloween festival a memorable one, why don’t we take a few moments together and remind ourselves or better still wrap our heads around its origin, its significance and also why this festival is carried with such a high acclaim and why it has become a huge celebration .
Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition, its origin can be dated back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (that was definitely the wrong pronunciation) which was celebrated by the Celt who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.
It’s a festival where the people wear costumes and light bonfires to ward off roaming ghosts. It was a period where the cattle were moved from summer pastures to the winter shelter; this implies the end of sowing and harvest season, a period of thanksgiving when the ancestors and the spirits of the deceased would return home to share in the feast. During this period, people will leave an offering of food and drinks, set out candles to light the path for their dead loved ones to come home.
The Samhain (the Celtic term for Halloween which is pronounced as “Sow-in”) was celebrated on the eve of the New Year day (i.e. October 31) as it was believed to be a night where the ghost of the dead returns to earth, a return that is accompanied with thick darkness and cold winter ,which leads to the damaging of crops.
It will surprise you to know that even the Wiccans also celebrate Samhain same way as the Celts. They saw the presence of the otherworldly spirits as gain because it made it easier for the witches to make predictions about the future; predictions that act as an important source of hope for people who are entirely dependent on unpredictable nature.
During the celebration, sacred bonfires were built, where people gathered around to offer burnt sacrifices of crops and animals to the Celtic deities. They’ll wear costumes of animal heads and skin, and go around attempting to tell each other’s fortunes.
This tradition went on until 43A.D; the majority of the Celtic territory was conquered by the Roman Empire and an attempt to abolish the Samhain, incorporated two festivals of Roman origin.
The first is Feralia, which was set aside for the commemoration of the dead, observed in late October.
The second was set aside to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs which was when the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church; this was later expanded to include all saints as well, it was moved from May 31 to November 1.
By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity had spread around Celtic. Hence the church made November 1 “All Souls’ Day” or “All Hallowmas” and the eve “All-hallows Eve” which eventually became Halloween.
At this point, you’re probably wondering; what about tasty candies, trick-or-treating, wild college orgy, pumpkin lambs, haunted houses and scary costume parties?
All these practices weren’t included in Halloween celebration not until the mid 18th century when America was flooded with Irish immigrants who were fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846. This played a huge role in popularizing Halloween celebration nationally; taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go from house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday which was more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. Sooner or later the Halloween parties for both adults and children became a common way of celebrating the day with activities which were focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.
At the wake of the twentieth century, Halloween gradually lost its superstitious and religious overtones.
Halloween has always been a holiday filled with magic, mysteries, and superstition. But today many of these practices are considered obsolete as it now centered on fun, charity, and entertainment. So while you’re dressed up in your favorite dead villain costumes have it in your mind that “death is no barrier to love, and every ending brings a new beginning.”
Stay tuned for PART B of this answer in coming days, where we look deeper into the “Thinning of the veil!”