A tiny little bit of holiday history

Halloween originated from the Celtic holiday known as Samhain (pronounced sow-en) which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. This transition between the seasons was also believed to be a bridge to the world of the dead and a time when fairies and spirits could easily travel between our world and theirs.  In order to placate the spirits and help ensure survival during the harsh winter months offerings of food and drink were left for them.  The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their former earthly homes, feasts were prepared, the dead were invited to join and a place was set in their honor.

In the 9th century, in an attempt to quell paganism and its subsiquent holidays, the Roman Catholic Church shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to November 1.   Over time, Samhain and All Saints’ merged and helped to create our modern Halloween.

Just a tiny little bit of history to start your day!

Further reading:

Halloween, The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows

 

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