One of the more interesting “holidays” in America, Halloween continues to fascinates. A few facts about this day:
– Halloween’s orgins date back to ancient Celtic festivals known as Samhain (celebration of the end of the harvest; time to stockpile food). Bonfires were created to scare off the dead and disease from destroying the food harvest in both Ireland and Scotland.
– Pagan festivals celebrated the underworld and its inhabitants (hence the symbols of witches, black cats, and masks). Cats come from the ancient Egyptian goddess Bast. Later, a Greek goddess that resembled Bast was known as Artemis and the Roman goddess was Diana. “In the Middle Ages, Diana was thought to be the Queen of Witches and thus, cats were thought to be related to witchcraft and considered as common pets of the witches.” The church forbade citizens in the Middle Ages from wearing masks as Masks were thought to “manifest these pagan deities in human form”.
– The roman catholic church under Gregory III and IV helped create the modern day Halloween, by combining the All Saints Day (historically a day of fasting and religious festivities) with the pagan holiday “Feast of the Lemures”.
– The carved pumpkin comes from an old Irish legend about “Stingy Jack”. The Irish used to carve turnips and place a candle in them (a form of superstition and to ward off the devil) but in North America, pumpkins were more available. The pumpkin was also associated with harvest time.