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Halloween - A Historical Perspective

Started by PPI Brian, October 20, 2010, 04:17:29 PM

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PPI Brian

So how did Halloween evolve into the celebration we know today? Where did it originate, and what does all the spooky symbolism mean?

Rather than present an article for consideration, I thought it would be appropriate to post it as a topic of discussion, and encourage all of our PPI forum to join in the conversation. I'll start...

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween's origins date back at least 2,000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts were the indigenous people who lived in the area now known as the UK and northern France. They celebrated their new year on what has become November 1st on our calendar. They chose this day because it was close to the autumn equinox and marked the end of the summer harvest. The long cold winter months soon followed, and because of the harsh conditions this became a time of year that was associated with human death, and the death and rebirth cycle of the earth. The Celts believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred on the night before the new year. So the celebrated Samhain on this night. To commemorate the event, their religious leaders known as Druids built huge sacred bonfires, and the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to their Gods. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, and told each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires with coals from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the winter.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--Carl Sagan

PPI Tracy

PPI Debra

The best book on the history of Halloween is by Celtic scholar Jean Markale "The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween".

As Brian stated ,it was a Celtic practice. The Celtic traditions are linked back to Neolithic times.

According to Markale, the role and impact of the Samhain festival can be summed up by these characteristics:

" * Festival presided over by kings and druids.
  * Mandatory presence of all members of the social group, all classes included.
  * A political legislative assembly.
  * Renewal of the King's power.
  * Judicial assembly (resolution of internal conflicts).
  * Recording of the collective memory (establishment of the Annuls).
  * Renewal of the creation of economic contracts.
  * Redistribution of community properties.
  * Feast characterized by excessive eating and drinking to attain sacred drunkenness.
(Debra's note: sacred drunkenness allowed one access to the "Well of Inspiration").
  * Music, songs and ritual games (real or substitute sacrifices, new fire).
  * Symbolic suspension of time.
  * Intimate contact with the other world.
" {Markale/2001 page 79}

All of this was performed on or near a sacred mound that represented the "Center of the World".
"If you're after gettin' the honey, don't go killin' all the bees." -Joe Strummer

PPI Jason

I think it's ironic that the pagans invented Halloween.

Then when the Christians took over in Europoe they tried to get rid of it.

They couldn't get rid of it because it was too popular. So they hijacked it instead and turned it into a Christian holiday that revolved around all the saints and All Saints Day.

Now, they aren't happy with it anymore and want to turn it into a "Harvest Festival."

Christianity, make up your mind  :D
Probably the earliest flyswatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.
-Jack Handey


"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It cuts the hand that wields it." --Rabindranath Tagore

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PPI Tracy

I love disussing this subject.  I think a lot of people do not know the true origins of Halloween.  I know I didn't always.

PPI Brian

Wow, the Brittish are finally getting into Halloween. 10 years ago they spent 10 million pounds on Halloween. This year they spent  280 million.
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--Carl Sagan