The long awaited and highly anticipated "All Hallows Eve" is quickly approaching. It is the time of year to start seeking out the latest craze in costume ware for the trick-or-treaters and the party goers. The retailers are gearing up for the swarm of shoppers desiring to turn their wilting summer lawns into the land of terror. The masses of teenagers have begun to pour into the malls to find the coolest costumes of the season. Candies and goodies of all kinds are flying off the supermarket shelves in order to fill the bags of the little ghouls and goblins that will be gracing our front doors on this very special holiday. Let's not forget the carving of pumpkins that brings out the undiscovered talents, and gets creative juices flowing. Yes, this cornucopia of festivities is all the makings of Halloween, but where did holiday come from?
Some historians believe Halloween originated from the Roman Feast of Pomona. In Roman mythology, the wood nymph Pomona is the goddess of fruits and seeds. Some say Halloween was derived from another cult Roman Festival of Parentalia, or festival of the dead. Most historians credit the Celtic cultures celebration of the harvest festival "Samhain" as the originator of the modern day Halloween.
The Festival of Samhain represented the final harvest, and the preparation of the new Celtic year. It also divided the year into two seasons. Beltane, which welcomes in the light, and Samhain which represents the dark. During this time, food would be prepared and stored for the winter. The livestock would be slaughtered as well. This was a representation of new beginnings for future crops to be planted. It was a time of communion and celebration for the people. Steeped deep in the Celtic culture is the belief that the dimensions between the living and the dead would diminish during Samhain. Good spirits, as well as, wicked spirits could cross over from the Otherworld. The long lost departed family members were welcomed home and honored, whereas, the evil spirits were warded off. To accomplish this, the young men wore disguises such as mask and costumes. Some darkened their faces, or wore veils over their head. The scarier that they looked, the more protected they became. Bonfires were an important part of this festival. All fires were put out and bonfires were lit. Cattle bones from the days slaughter were placed in the flames. Bonfires were placed side by side and a cleansing ritual of walking through the flames were performed by the people and their livestock Then the people used the fire from the bonfires to light their hearths. Divinations were performed at this time. The ritual of souling, or praying for the souls of the dead, was executed in order to receive gifts such as fruit cakes. Jack-o-lanterns were carved out of large turnips and placed on window seals to help ward off evil spirits.
Pumpkin carving is a North American tradition that started in the 1800's. From the ancient Druid priest to the modern day horror fest, Halloween has evolved into a much loved and profitable holiday extravaganza.