Friday, October 31, 2008

Tug says "Happy Halloween"!

Not really, he wasn't all that happy but he was cute!

This Holiday has always intrigued me; I guess I could be defined as an agnostic. Its not that I don't believe in God, I just have so many questions. I am one of those people that needs something palpable in order to believe there is a higher power than that which we already, as human beings, possess. The power of choice, of self-reliance, and our own will. I have always been drawn to the evolution of Christianity and other religions, and still hope someday to study Theology.

It is widely known that Halloween has its roots in Paganism, and when the powers that be (were) in Christendom tried to root it out as such, they came to the realization that in order to bring pagans over to their way of thinking, they needed to adopt at least some of their culture into Christian practices.

Here is the story as put up by, of All Hallows Eve;

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, 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. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred 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 honor 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.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.


Mim said...

I grew up Catholic and all the major holidays have pagan roots. Easter, spring solstice, Christmas, winter solstice etc. It made me angry that the church had to change everything to suit their ways! Sounds like big goverment.

Sharon said...

I look around and see what good people do and what bad people do - it's not hard for me believe that there's good and evil.

Laura said...

I've always felt that the new year should begin around now - the weather drastically changes from mild, crisp fall days to gray, rainy, muck-filled days (can you tell it's raining?). We survive winter by hoping for spring, and curling up in front of the fire and spinning and knitting and drinking nogs.

I'm more of a animist/pagan/I-don't-know-what. I believe in a higher power, I believe in good and evil. I also believe that whatever higher power there is wants us to do as much as we can for ourselves before bothering he/she/it with our wants and needs. Even though I was brought up Methodist, I always thought that people that I knew used "the church" and "faith" as a crutch. Geez - get out there and take responsibility for yourself!!

Ok, stepping down off my soapbox and into the mud...