The History of Halloween
Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. It has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman's Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days. Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favourite. It was "he" who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow. The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold." On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes were extinguished. The Druids, the Celtic priests, used to meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest and they used to light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness began. When the morning arrived the Druids gave an ember from their fires to each family who took them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.
The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced "sow-en"). The festival lasted for 3 days. Many people walked around in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival became the first Halloween.
During the first century the Romans invaded Britain. They brought with them many of their festivals and customs. One of these was the festival known as Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens. It was also celebrated around the 1st of November. After hundreds of years of Roman rule the customs of the Celtic's Samhain festival and the Roman Pomona Day mixed becoming the most important autumn holiday.
The next influence came with the spread of the new Christian religion throughout Europe and Britain. In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church made November 1st a church holiday to honour all the saints. This day was called All Saint's Day, or Hallowmas, or All Hallows. Years later the Church made November 2nd a holy day. It was called All Souls Day and was to honour the dead. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils. But the spread of Christianity did not make people forget their early customs. On the eve of All Hallows, Oct. 31, people continued to celebrate the festivals of Samhain and Pomona Day. Over the years the customs from all these holidays mixed. October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow's Eve, and then Halloween. The Halloween we celebrate today includes all of these influences.
The history of "Trick'O'Treating" can be traced back to the early celebrations of All Soul's Day in Britain. The poor went begging and the housewives gave them special treats called "soulcakes". This was called "going a-souling", and the "soulers" promised to say a prayer for the dead. Then the custom changed and the children became the beggars. As they went from house to house they were given apples, buns, and money. During the Pioneer days of the American West, the housewives gave the children candies to keep from being tricked. The children would shout "Trick or Treat!".
Origins of Jack O'Lantern
An Irish tale tells us where the origins of the name Jack o'lantern came from. There once was a man named Jack who liked to play tricks on people. He lived a long, mischievous life. One day he tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved the image of a Holy Cross in the trunk of the tree. This trapped the Devil up the tree. Jack made a the following deal with the Devil: he would let the Devil down the tree, if the Devil promised never to tempt him again. After Jack died, he was not allowed into Heaven because of his evil ways. He was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the Devil. The devil gave him a single ember to light his way through thedarkness. This flame was put inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing. As Jack walked his neverending journey as punishment for his trickery, he carried a burning coal inside a turnip to help him see along the roads everywhere he travelled. Soon he was known as "Jack of the lantern" or Jack O'Lantern. In Ireland, turnips were used originally. However, immigrants to America, found pumpkins more plentiful than turnips. The Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
Dear students here you read about Halloween now try to answer to these questions.
Answer the questions
1. When is Halloween?
2. Which culture influenced the holiday of Halloween?
3. When did the Celts celebrate New Year?
4. What was Pomona day?
5. What did the housewives give to children during Pioneer days?
6 Who was Jack?
7. What did he carve in the trunk of the tree?
8. Who did he trick?
9. What did the devil give him to light his way?
9. Do you celebrate Halloween? Why?
Watch this video and enjoy the short poem!
And now have fun with this online game