Happy Halloween from the Jefferson County Post

Halloween is the time of the year where we take the night off to be kids again. Enjoying all the candy, tricks and all around fun that the spooky season seems to offer. For parents helping their little ones pick the right costume and watching their eyes light up when they first put it on is priceless. Not to mention taking half of their candy when the night is over and they have gone to bed. Ever wonder where the ideal of Halloween came from. In this section of our Halloween series we explore the mystical origins of this beloved creepy holiday.

Historically Halloween began with the ancient Celtic people over 2,000 years ago. They celebrated the end of their harvest season and the beginning of winter every year on November 1st. They believed this time to be the official beginning of the dark and the cold, and this change brought about the opening of the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead. They believed that when the barrier opened the dead could actually return to earth. This happened the night before their celebrations on October 31st during the ancient festival of Samhain.

To commemorate all that had been done the ancient Celts built huge bonfires and put on costumes of animal skins. When the celebrations were over they would re-light the bonfires the next morning as a symbol of guiding and helping their people through the winter ahead.

This celebration was important to them because they paid attention to the other worldly spirts as they believed the ghosts could mess up their crops for the coming year. It was also believed that the ghosts would give their priests have visions of the impending future holding the very fate of their people in their hands. These people were dependent on the natural world around them so the prophesies offered by the ghosts and the priests were critical.

Eventually the Celtic people, like many at the time, would be ruled under the traditions of the Catholic Church. The church was not in favor of the Celtic celebrations of Samhain and wanted to instead incorporate the people’s traditions with their own of honoring dead saints and those who had passed the previous year. The result to this was All Saint’s Day in the 9th century that was an attempt to blend both traditions. People celebrated with bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes. All Saints Day was called all-hallows as it was celebrated on the 31st when Samhain was officially celebrated. This became All Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween.

Halloween was celebrated through the centuries ever since. In Medieval Times people would leave out food for ghosts returning and even dress up as ghosts to blend in for the evening so they wouldn’t be recognized. In America Halloween would be banned by strict Protestant beliefs but would eventually be introduced and integrated by Irish immigrants fleeing from the Great Potato Famine that devastated Ireland. Halloween would take on a less frightening tone and become the family friendly event that we all know today around the 1800’s. Today Halloween is a cultural phenomenon for all ages. Many plan in advance and trick or treating events pop up more and more each year. Happy Halloween from all of us at the Jefferson County Post!

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer