In ancient Britain and Ireland,
the Celtic festival of Samhain Eve was observed on October 31
at the end of summer by the ancient Celts, a tribal people who
inhabited most of the Western and Central Europe. This date was
also the eve of the new year in both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon times
and the occasion for one of the ancient fire festival, when huge
bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits.
The date was connected with the
return of herds from pasture, and laws and land tenures were
renewed. The souls of the dead were thought to revisit their
homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister
significance, with ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies
and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about.
was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the
processes of nature. In addition, Halloween was thought to be
the most favourable time for divinations concerning marriage,
luck, health, and death.
also dress up in furs and scary masks. They hoped that the evil
spirits would be scared away or would mistake them for animals
and wouldn't try to possess their bodies.
was for the peasants to go door to door, begging for food. The
food would be left out to appease the spirits, with hopes that
they would go back to the spirit world. Whoever gave food would
receive a prayer from the peasants for good fortunes for the
next year, but those that were stingy received eggs and rocks
thrown at their homes, among other pranks.
In the 7th century,
the Romans conquered England and brought many of their own traditions.
One of these was the celebration of All Saints Day, established by
the Catholic Church in the 9th century to honor Christian saints.
It was was originally
celebrated in May and by the 9th century, All Saints Day was
moved to November 1st. All Soul's Day (a festival to celebrate
all the dead souls and help purify the spirits of the dead) was added to November 2nd and
is also connected to Halloween.
Church hoped that the combination of the pagan celebration of
Samhain with their own festival could make more people follow
the Catholic religion. Samhain became known as All Hallows' evening or All Hallow's Eve (the eve before
the hallowed days of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day). Eventually,
All Hallow's Eve was shortened to Hallow E'en and then to Halloween
as it is known today.
modern times, Halloween is the occasion for pranks and for children
requesting treats or threatening tricks, dreseed up in Halloween
costumes. They go
from house to house asking for candies or other treats. According
to this custom, children greet each homeowner with the cry "Trick
or Treat," suggesting that some sort of prank will be played
unless treats are provided.
below if you have clicked on Halloween Tour on the Halloween
the Halloween tour |
music theme from the Magic Kingdom's attraction "The Haunted
Mansion" from Disney
Snow script by Dynamic
Information obtained at Britannica, Encarta and Halloween