Historical Halloween Essay

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Marie Gibson Arpin LI-222 21 October 2011 Historical Holloween Many present day holidays have been shaped by old folklore and traditions on a global scale. Halloween rituals date back to a pre-Christian time when some of the same present day rituals held different meanings than today. When ancient customs evolve into modern ones, the reason for the ritual changes, but the custom doesn’t (Santino, 213). Rather than doing away with the customs, the Medieval Church gave them Christian meanings. Halloween is on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead. Halloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back to over 2000 years ago. All Hallows Eve is the evening before All Saints Day, which was created by Christians to convert pagans, and is celebrated on November 1st (Brandes, 60). Many people in ancient Europe marked the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter by celebrating a Samhain (pronounced so-ween) in late autumn. Samhain later influenced Halloween customs, and was a holiday observed by the ancient Celts. The Celts were tribal people who inhabited most of Western and Central Europe in the first millennium BC (Zany, 36). Among the Celts, Samhain marked the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Samhain began at sundown on October 31 and extended into the following day. According to the Celtic pagan religion, known as Druidism, the spirits of those who had died in the preceding year roamed the earth on Samhain evening. The Celts sought to ward off these spirits with offerings of food and drink. The Celts also built bonfires at sacred hilltop sites and performed rituals, often involving human and animal sacrifices, to honor Druid deities (Terathen, 6). In old Irish myth, The Battle of Moytura, the Morrigan and Dagda, Mother and Father Deities, mate on

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