Originally posted by Annette Martin on 10/30/2010-We Miss You, Annette!
Halloween’s birth began around 500B.C. in the area that is now Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland and France. Samhain,(Sow – en) fell at the end of October, and for the Celts it was a pretty unnerving time. On Sow-en it was believed that the veil between the real and spiritual worlds was thinnest. Therefore, it would not be unusual to see banshees or sundry spirits of the dead wandering about.
It also marked the Celtic New Year, the day of the end of the summer season, the end of the harvest, and the beginning of winter. It may seem strange to start a new year at this “dead” time, but the growing season really begins with the winter sowing of crops, thereby implanting new life in the dormant fields. It was a time of communing with the ancestors, a feature which Celtic Christians incorporated into the festival of All Souls, a direct legacy of the ancient festival.
Storytelling began in earnest during the long, dark, winter nights; many of these tales would have been ghost-stories about the Otherworld, whose gates stood wide open at this time, allowing the dead to walk among the living, but also to meddle in our affairs.
Only those in disguise would venture out on this night to confuse the sidhe, the Faerie kind and the feared, though revered ancestors; a custom which has been passed down to us as Mischief Night, Halloween and trick or treat.
Sow-en is a good time for recycling, transforming or throwing away whatever is stale or outworn.
Sow-en became the Eve of All Hallows – the day before the Catholic festival of All Hallows or All Saints. Many Catholics today observe All Saints Day with services remembering loved ones who have died. And Festive Day of the Dead celebrations are popular in Latino cultures.
However, as with the other grafted religious holiday, many of Sow – en’s pagan aspects remained with Halloween. Among them, bonfires, trick – or – treating, and the darker, spookier vestiges.
Today, some people with a cultural interest will observe Celtic New Year with music, food and dancing. Some people who seriously practice witchcraft will observe Sow – en with pagan religious rites. And some people looking for a good time will dress up and act silly just for the fun of it.
Whatever you participate in, sacred or pagan, Halloween holds fear, suspense, goblins and ghosts….and candy for all of us. I hope you have a good time.