Hallow’en: Celtics Celebration of Death

Halloween originated 2,000 years ago as a Celtic Festival called Samhain. The Pagan priests called Druids designed the Samhain as a celebration of death and hell.

The Druids observed two special nights of the year – Beltane on May 1 and Samhain on November 1. Beltane marked the birth of summer. Samhain signified the death of summer and the beginning of dark cold winter.

Samhain celebrated in 2008 (Halloween Forevermore)

Considered as the most important ritual, the Druids performed human sacrifices and other dreadful rituals during Samhain. Legends held that Druids would sacrificed first-born children. Then, they would drink their blood and eat their flesh. They lit bonfires as a thanksgiving to Baal.

The Druids believed that during this time otherworldly spirits returned to this world. The Pagan priests would wear costumes of demons and evil spirits to take temporarily the qualities of the god or demon represented by the mask. They would decorate their temples with severed human heads as the Druids considered the head as the holder of soul. In modern times, the severed human head is replaced with jack-o’-lantern.

The origin of jack-o’-lantern is sinister (Wonderopolis).

When the Roman Empire occupied Celtic territories, Pope Boniface IV combined Samhain with festivals of Roman origins to honor of Christian martyrs. Pope Gregory III expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs. He subsequently moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. The church later swapped Samhain with All Soul’s Day on November 2.

Despite the changes, the Celts continued celebrating Samhain eventually soften the commemoration of the event. The built fires where people assembled to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During this celebration, the people wore costumes and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

People celebrated All Soul’s Day similar to Samhain, with bonfires and dressing up with costumes. The All Saints Day celebration called All-hallows or All-hallowmas is on November 1. The night before began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.


Source: AV1611  History

Further Readings

The Ancient Celtic Festivals


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