Halloween Came From Where?
by Chad Koch

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1. HAPPY HALLOWEEN
2. SUMMER'S END
3. SPOOKY
4. THE COLD SHOULDER
5. HALLOW'S EVE
6. BOBBING FOR APPLES
7. TRICK
8. OR TREAT
9. JACK O' LANTERN
10.THE GREAT PUMPKIN

1. HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Of all the mainstay holidays that populate our year, Halloween is one of the oldest, dating back thousands of years. Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Easter and even Christmas are youngsters by comparison.

Follow me and I'll take you on a trail that follows it through the ages to the costume and candy nighttime promenade we celebrate today.

2. SUMMER'S END

Originally starting out as an ancient Celtic holiday, Druidic priests regarded the day as the end of the year and a celebration for the year's harvest. October 31 was the first day of a three-day celebration called Samhain, meaning "the end of summer". It marked the passage from the season of the sun to the season of darkness, but was also a festival for honoring the dead. The Celts believed the laws of space and time were suspended on this night, allowing the spirit world to crossover and intermingle with the living world.

3. SPOOKY

As the story goes, the disembodied spirits of all those who had passed away throughout the preceding year would come back on that night in search of living bodies to possess for the coming year. Apparently, it was their only hope for an afterlife. To protect themselves, the Celtic priests developed spells, charms and ritualistic burning sacrifices to appease the wandering spirits that roamed the night.

4. THE COLD SHOULDER

Of course, being alive you certainly didn't want to get possessed, so on the night of October 31st, people would put out the fires in their fireplaces and furnaces, to make their homes cold and undesirable to the wandering spirits. To complete the ritual, they would then dress in ghoulish costumes, parading around the neighborhoods causing ruckus and destruction in order to scare off the spirits looking for a warm body to inhabit.

5. HALLOW'S EVE

The word Halloween is a concoction. Samhain (pronounced sow-en, the sow rhymes with cow, that "en" part is important to remember) was combined with the November 1st Catholic holiday of "All Hallows Eve", otherwise known as "All Hallows Day "or "All Saints Day". The old English word "Hallow" meant to sanctify. It was the day for honoring the Catholic saints. By the 7th century AD it was adapted as "All Soul's Day" to honor all the dead and not just the saints. Over time, these two celebrations were combined into one mega-fest by the growing populations of Europe. And abracadabra, sow-en and Hallows Eve merged creating Halloween. In Ireland it is sometimes referred to as Hallow E'en and others still spell it, Hallowe'en, further emphasizing the marriage of terms and holidays.

6. BOBBING FOR APPLES

Eventually the traditional Roman celebration on November 1st honoring Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, was absorbed into the Halloween punch bowl. Bringing its own traits with it, Pomona's symbol was an apple, which most likely inspired the party activity of bobbing for apples.

7. TRICK...

Celebration of Halloween came to America with early Irish and Scottish immigrants. The belief in spirit possession had subsided compared to the early days and the act of dressing as ghouls, goblins, ghosts and witches was more like today's ceremonious fun.

However, the anarchy still remained from the early Celtic days. Favorite tricks of the time were knocking over outhouses, especially with someone inside and unhinging fence gates, freeing farm animals and the like.

8. ...OR TREAT
The treat part of trick-or-treating originated with a 9th century European custom called "souling". On "All Souls Day", early Christians would walk door-to-door begging for "soul cakes", little squares of bread made with currants (yummy). You see, at the time, it was believed that the souls of the dead remained in limbo on earth and that prayers would speed the soul's passage to heaven. The more soul cakes the beggars would get, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the givers.

9. JACK O' LANTERN

An Irish folklore tells the tale of a lazy trickster named Jack. In his whole life he never made a single enemy, nor a single friend, never did an honest day's work or performed a single selfless act for anyone. But despite his sloth and constant state of inebriation, he was able to foil the Devil's attempt at taking his soul.

One Halloween Jack's number was up and the Devil arrived to do his deed. Jake was of course having a pint at the pub and asked the Devil for permission to finish his ale. The Devil agreed and Jack struck up a conversation. He asked, "If you really have any power, you could transform yourself into anything, right? Even a shilling." The Devil took it as challenge and transformed himself into a silver coin. Jack snatched up the coin and scratched a cross-shaped scar into the face. The power of the cross, being like kryptonite to Superman, made the Devil powerless and held him captive.

Jack bartered with Satan, he would free him if he would grant Jack another year of life so that he would have time to repent. Having little choice, the Devil made it so. A year passed, Jack being Jack, never got around to getting off his bar stool to repent.

Again it was Halloween, but Satan was a no show. Suddenly Jack knew why, presto-change-o, Jack was dead and standing at the pearly gates. He was getting to go to heaven. Ah, but before admittance he had to get the okay from St. Peter. Checking his records, St. Peter gave Jack the thumbs down, boo-hoo, for Jack had never performed a single selfless act. Off to hell Jack would go.

However, Satan wasn't having any of it either. He was still ticked for getting tricked. Having nowhere else to go, the Devil gave Jack a single burning ember in a hollowed out turnip. With only this simple lantern to light his path, rejected from heaven and hell, poor Jack was doomed to wander in the darkness forever.

The Irish originally used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns". But in America, pumpkins were far easier to come by than turnips. Pumpkins also pulled a double duty, symbolizing the giant full moon of harvest. So, the man-in-the-moon and trickster Jack combined to form the carved face pumpkins of our Jack O' Lanterns.

10. THE GREAT PUMPKIN

There you have it ghouls and goblins, the who's and boos of why Halloween is one of our favorite times of year! Jokes and candy to all ye this Hallow's Eve!

After Halloween what is a vampire's favorite holiday?
Fangsgiving!

About the Author: To read more articles by Chad, please visit the American Pop Culture Encyclopedia at: http://www.americanpopcultureencyclopedia.com. If you would like to read this article, or others like it, on American Pop Culture Encyclopedia: http://www.americanpopcultureencyclopedia.com/halloween.htm

Source: www.isnare.com

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