How long have we really been celebrating Halloween? Was this just something that came up one day or was it something celebrated before the Europeans came to America?
Halloween means "All Hallows", or "All Saints", or "All Souls" Day. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherians used to observe All Hallows Day to honor the Saints in heaven.
The Romans observed the holiday of Feralia(to give rest and peace to the dead), they made sacrifices and offered up prayers. This holiday was celebrated February 12, the end of the Roman year. Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day to replace the festival of the dead and changed the date to May 13, later, Gregory III changed the date to November 1.
The American version of Halloween Day is originally an ancient Duidric fire festival called "Samahain". The Celts in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland all celebrate Samahain (sow-in).
Ireland the festival was known as Samhein(or La Samon, the Feast of the Sun), in Scotland, the celebration was known as Hallowe'en and in Welsh it's Nos Galen-gaeof (the Night of the Winter Calends).
A Celtic story says that on Samhain the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the year before would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, which allowed Spirits to talk with the living.
Obviously, no one wants to be possessed, so, on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily parade around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.
Rome had adopted Celtic practices and put Samahain in there list of October celebrations. There is one day in Roman October in which they celebrate, Pomona, her symbol is the apple which may explain the "bobbing-for-apples" we have on Halloween.
Soon the thought of possession died down and the practice of dressing up like witches, hob goblins, and ghosts took a more ritualistic role.
The celebration of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840s by fleeing Irish Immigrants.
History of Halloween
Halloween- The History, Traditions, and Customs
Ah, the interesting randomness of Halloween. :D I never knew a lot of the stuff on here from Halloween! I like these posts.