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Imagery of Halloween
History of Halloween:
- When and where did Halloween start? This is
a good question, because its exact origins are unconfirmed.
However, there are three solid connections to the beginning of
- Connection #1: Some people are convinced
that Halloween developed from the ancient Roman feast of Pomona
(goddess of fruits and seeds).
- Connection #2: Others believe Halloween
developed from another ancient Roman holiday known as Parentalia, which
was a festival of the dead.
- Connection #3: The most accurate link
probably goes back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain or Samuin
(pronounced sow-an or sow-in). The name comes from the Old Irish
language and means "Summer's end". A similar festival held by the
ancient Britons was known as Calan Gaeaf (pronounced Kol-on ga-av).
- Samhain celebrated the end of the "lighter half"
of the year and the beginning of the "darker half". It's
sometimes thought of as the Celtic "New Year".
- The ancient Celts believed that on Samhain, the
border between our world and the "Otherworld" became thin, allowing
spirits both harmless and harmful to pass through. Loved ones
were welcomed back while bad spirits were warded off. To ward off
evil spirits, scary costumes and masks were worn. The idea was
that if you convinced bad spirits that you were also a bad spirit, they
would leave you alone.
- In Scotland, spirits were impersonated by young
men dressed in white who either masked, veiled, or blackened their
faces. This all-white look is probably what developed our
common-held belief that ghosts are white.
- Samhain was also a time to stock up on food for
the upcoming Winter. This included harvest, and the slaughter of
- Bonfires also played a big part in the
festivities of Samhain, as they were needed to cook meat and dispose of
the bones of animals. Today, fire is more associated with
Halloween than with any other holiday.
- The name of Halloween has its roots in the Old
English era, but really didn't come about until the 16th century.
- "All Hallows" comes from Old English.
"All-Hallows-Even" or "All-Hallows-Eve", a name for the night before
"All Hallows", is believed to have originated in the year 1556. A
Scottish variant of this name was "Halloween". This all happened
during the period known as Reformation.
- Many of the Halloween traditions we know today
have their roots in Old English and the 16th century Reformation.
- Halloween transformed largely from a religious
holiday to a secular (non-religious) holiday in the years following
- Christian attitudes towards Halloween today are
quite varied. The Anglican Church emphasizes the religious aspect
of "All Saints' Day", as they prefer to call it. Other
Protestants celebrate the day as "Reformation Day", a way to celebrate
the Protestant Reformation. Most Christians, however, see no
connection of the holiday to Christianity.
- Halloween is not celebrated in all countries of
the world, and those that do celebrate the holiday largely take their
influence from how Americans celebrate the day.
Imagery of Halloween:
- The practice of making Jack O'Lanterns started in
ancient Celtic days. England, Ireland, Scotland...anywhere the
people spoke Celtic...made candle lanterns by carving turnips, NOT
PUMPKINS! Why? It was viewed as a way to commemorate those
whose souls were in purgatory. These scary looking turnips were
put in the windows of Celtic homes to ward off evil spirits.
- How did pumpkins become Jack O'Lanterns?
Why the switch? Carving pumpkins to make Jack O'Lanterns started
in North America. Pumpkins were more readily available than
turnips, and much larger. They were much better for
carving. Pumpkins as Jack O'Lanterns started around the middle
1800s. At first, the faces were typically made scary. As
religious attitudes toward the holiday greatly relaxed, Jack O'Lanterns
started taking on funny faces. An interesting and far more recent
development, is the practice of carving very detailed, ornate
illustrations on pumpkins, rather than faces. Things like nature
scenes, and other pictures, have made appearances on Jack
O'Lanterns. Some people have probably done this for far longer
than we think, but the fad really caught on in the 1980s-90s.
- Black and orange have become the chief colors of
Halloween. Why? It's believed that most people associated
these colors with the holiday due to the color of darkness (black) and
the color of fire, Autumn leaves, or pumpkins (orange).
- Anything related to harvest time became
associated with Halloween. This includes things like corn husks,
Indian corn, pumpkins, scarecrows, and so on.
- Any kind of scary animal, or animal tied to scary
superstition, became associated with Halloween. This includes
things like bats, black cats, spiders, wolves (leading into werewolves)
or anything else frightening.
- Horror stories of the 19th century, and horror
films of the 20th century, added a pop-culture "monster" touch to the
holiday. Dracula and all vampires, Frankenstein, werewolves, even
mummies and the Invisible Man, were all added to ancient standards like
devils, ghosts, goblins, skeletons, and witches. The Invisible
Man has probably become a classic Halloween fixture due to the fact
that he's a lot like a ghost.
- Themes of death and evil, magic and the occult,
and all manners of monsters from ancient mythology to modern
pop-culture have been thrown into the mix of Halloween.