A Horrorful History Of Halloween


 

The Fight Or Flight Fear Factor !

 

When contemplating what the title should be for this history of Halloween themed blog post, “horrorful” seemed to be the only ‘orrible hybrid word that really truly madly deeply does sum up how most of us feel about Halloween and spooky things in general; horror = it’s horrid, gory and ful borrowed from “wonderful” in this peculiar context = it’s bizarrely fun to experience that heightened sense of feeling temporarily frightened – perhaps it even helps flex our flight or fight instinct every now and again …

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So Where ‘n When Did Halloween First Come In to Existence ?

 

So where and when did it all start !?! no I’m not talking about our predilection for fear, I mean from where and whence does the horrorful history of Halloween originate from …

 

Gaelic Beginnings …

 

Well we have the Celts to thank from Ireland, Scotland and Wales – for it is from these reaches of Britain that a festival called Samhain, pronounced sow in was annually practiced in the autumn time towards the end of October to the beginning of November to ward off malevolent spirits. Now originally Samhain was practiced as far back as over two thousand years ago but in 8 AD the Christian Church in it’s quest to bring Christianity to the masses attempted to supersede and diminish Samhain. Hence All Saints Day came in to being and was officially a national and international day to pay homage to Christian martyrs and saints.

 

Only Fools Don’t Break The Rules !

 

But the Celts and their descendants broke the rules imposed on them by the avalanche of Christianity and continued to practice their cherished festival to combat mean spirited … well spirits ! The celebration also began to incorporate something for the children and so the tradition of trick or treat-ing was born, originally the Celtic children would ask for food and anything that could be bartered in return for singing a Celtic melody or saying a prayer.

 

Gods, Deities and Celtic Chants !

 

On the evening and into the late hours of the 31st of October large fires were lit to keep evil spirits away and much dancing singing and chanting took place, the Celts wore animal hides and made sacrifices to their Gods and Deities in the belief that they would be rewarded with the protection of kindly spirits and guides!  

 

The Christian Church though was determined to put a stop to Samhain altogether and so extended All Saints Day which took place (and still does) on November the 1st to two days and the second was (and is still) called All Souls Day which is on the next day, the 2nd of November. All Saints Day also became known as All Hallow Mass and correspondingly the 31st day and particularly night dated October the 31st began to be called All Hallows Eve.

 

The Americanisation Of All Hallows Eve

 

In the middle part of the 19th century, the United States accepted a sizable influx of Scots and also Irish people making their escape from the potato famine and so they brought with them All Hallows Eve and over the years the 31st day and night of October became known as Halloween – the hallow was the Celtic Old English word that means “saint” and een transmuted from the old Scottish word even which meant the night before.

 

So over the years and decades Halloween became a much revered annual spooky but fun event and symbols specific to the USA became associated with it, particularly the well known pumpkin which by coincidence is harvested in the month of October. The Irish peoples before they set sail for America carved jack o lanterns out of potatoes to ward off nasty spirits and mean ghosts but once they were in America the convenience, fiery colour and sheer size of pumpkins made potato lanterns obsolete!

 

The Histrionic Commercialisation Of Halloween & Up To Now

 

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The colour orange became widely associated with Halloween – due to the pumpkin factor and many people dressed up in orange and black to celebrate this ancient Celtic night of observation, and of course they still do today.

 

The commercial history of Halloween costumes began in the 1930’s for this was when ghostly, ghastly and garish Halloween costumes started to be mass produced and sold by several companies from that era.

 

So from then til now and probably for ever after many different masks and costumes ranging from Dracula, goblins, devils, Morticia Adams, Maleficent, pirates, skeletons, warlocks, werewolves, witches, wizards, vampires and zombies etc can be acquired and worn in order to acknowledge the existence of malevolent, mean and miscreant spirits on the 31st night of October which is now known as Halloween

Quote By Richelle E Goodrich

 

The harvest moon glows round and bold
in pumpkin shades outlined in gold
illuminating eerie forms
un-natural as a candied corn
beware what dare crawls up your sleeve
for tis the night called Hallows Eve

 

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