Ever wonder what the real deal is concerning this holiday? The paranormal aura and mystique surrounding Halloween connects to a series of beliefs, traditions and superstitions. What is the actual origin of Halloween? It appears to date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. By Celts we refer to the people who lived approximately 2,000 years ago in
, the Ireland , and northern United Kingdom , celebrating their new year on
November 1. This day marked the end of summer harvest and the beginning of
dark, cold winter, a time of year often associated with human death. France
Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, believing that ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. The Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During these celebrations, Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they put out earlier that evening. This symbolic lighting was done from the sacred bonfire to serve as a protection during the coming winter.
By 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered a majority of Celtic territory. During the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor
, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation
of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of
"bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween. Pomona
By the 800’s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. The pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.
Tales of the supernatural are ever popular during the Halloween season. Black Opal Books recently published WITCH WISH, my YA novel with a supernatural twist. If you are a teenager or have one in the family, you might like to order this book:
This follows THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, available in
all e-books as well as print.
Also available, DARK MOON RISING, Gothic romantic suspense from Luminosity for adult reading, available in all e-book formats and print as well.
Are there any books that you consider good Halloween reading choices? If so, please share with us.