Halloween a combination of ancient holidays


    By Corey Christiansen

    Every holiday has its history.

    However, the history behind Halloween is not well known to some students.

    Kristen Wilkinson, 19, a junior from Layton, Davis County, majoring in home economics education, said she had no clue where some of the traditions of Halloween came from.

    “I just remember my grandma telling me stories about how they would tip over outhouses in the 30s,” she said.

    Other students also weren”t sure how Halloween was started.

    “I know it”s something about a Hollow”s Eve,” said Mike King, 25, a graduate student in social work from Raymond, Alberta, Canada.

    According to the History Channel”s Web site, Halloween comes from a combination of Celtic and Roman Catholic celebrations.

    The Celts, who lived in Ireland 2,000 years ago, celebrated Samhain (pronounced sow-in) on October 31 to signify the end of summer.

    This festival occurred the night before the Celtic New Year, November 1.

    On the night of Samhain, Celts believed the ghosts of the dead would return to earth.

    The Celtic priests, also known as druids, believed the ghosts could help them tell the future.

    The druids would dress up in costumes and perform rituals where they would attempt to tell each other”s fortunes, according to the History Channel Web site.

    Halloween”s Roman Catholic roots stem from the creation of “All Saints” Day” on November 1 by Pope Boniface IV in the seventh century.

    By this time, Christianity had spread to Celtic lands and the Catholic Church attempted to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday, according to the Web site.

    “The celebration (of All Saints” Day) was also called ”All-hallows” or ”All-hallowmas” and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween,” the Web site said.

    The popular tradition of trick-or-treating is also a part of Halloween that students found difficult to explain.

    “Maybe it”s an excuse for parents to get candy when they take the kids around,” King said.

    The real beginning of trick-or-treating comes from a ninth century European custom called “souling,” said Charles Panati in his book, “Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.”

    “On November 2, All Souls Day (another holiday instituted after All Saints” Day), early Christians would walk from village to village begging for ”soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants,” he said.

    Panati said the beggars would say prayers for the dead relatives of the donors so the souls of the dead could pass from limbo to heaven.

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