#October 31st was an old #Celtic #festival, known as #Samhain. It was also the beginning of the #New #Year and marked the transition from summer’s end to the beginning of a long, unpredictable winter that could bring hunger and hardship. This time between years was a time of transition. Even the usual stable boundaries between the Other World and our Human World were more open on this day and the spirits of the dead could roam on earth, along with all other #phantoms, #fairies, and unworldly #creatures. They either came back to feel close to their family and friends and share blessings for the future with them, or they came back to get revenge for any slight against them that had not been put to right, or just to have some fun causing mischief and mayhem wherever they could! People started to disguise themselves with home-made masks when they went outside their own homes, so that the #ghosts and #spirits would not recognize them, or else to make them think they were just another ghost roaming around! People also made a lot of noise wherever they went to confuse the roaming spirits, and to keep them at bay!
Everything was tidied on the farm and in the home before winter set in. Animals that could not be fed over winter were slaughtered and their meat preserved for the coming months. The bones, and all other unwanted bits-and-pieces around the place were thrown onto the bon(e)fire and people gathered round to feel warm, sing, dance and celebrate. People enjoyed good food, games and going a little wild before the long winter began.
Later the #Romans honored #Pomona, the goddess of trees and fruit at this time of year, and this is probably the origin of the various apple games that are still enjoyed at #Halloween.
In 837, the #church introduced ‘All #Saints’ Day’ to add a #Christian dimension to the celebrations at this time of the year. Many saints already had their own special feast day, but #November 1st was dedicated to all saintly people who were not already recognized for their good deeds. It was an opportunity for people to turn their thoughts away from #evil and mischievous #spirits and to think on the lives of #saints who inspire them to be better people. It was known originally as ‘All #Hallows Day’, and so #October 31st became known as Hallowe’en – the eve of All Hallows. Whereas Hallowe’en conjures up images of #darkness, #evil and #chaos, All Hallows brings evokes images of calm, goodness, and light.
November 2nd is celebrated as ‘All #Souls’ Day’ or the ‘Day of the #Dead’. People remember #family and #friends who have died, and those souls who may not have yet found peace after death. In some places #children and #adults went from house begging for Soul #Cakes in exchange for #songs or #prayers for departed souls.
These three special days – Hallowe’en, All Saints’ and All Souls’ all relate to being human – trying to avoid evil, striving to do our best, and enjoying our lives as fully as possible, knowing that some day we will have to leave it all behind.