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The Druids and Celts and Halloween History

Posted by admin On May - 24 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

The Druids and Celts and Halloween History

When it comes to Druids and Celts and Halloween, there is a connection that dates back eons. Of course the tales surrounding their connection involving Halloween are deeply shrouded in mystery and lore, as the holiday itself is. While there some variations in the tales, the core of the stories remain the same.

The First Halloween or Samhain

The celebrations for this holiday started in ancient, pre-Christian times as a Celtic ceremony for the dead. The holiday fell upon October 31, as it still does. It was called Samhain and marked the eve of the next season and new year. During this time period, November 1 was the beginning of the cold season, which was a time of hardship. In this era the year was divided up based on four holidays, as opposed to seasons but each division was still affiliated with a season. For this situation, the season was winter.

The winter ahead promised to be cold, long and harsh. The people would get ready by relocating their livestock closer and preparing them for the cruel season ahead. The cessation of the crop cycle was at this time, with the harvests being stored for the winter. Because of the severity of this season, and the long, dark, cold spell upon the Celts, it became affiliated with death.

The festival of Samhain became a time that people believed the worlds of the living and the dead could become one again, with the presence of spirits. Spirits could return to earth and be mischievous, like causing crop damage. The Celts also thought the priests, or Druids, could make forecasts with greater ease for the coming year when the un-living were around. Animal sacrifices would be made and fires lit to try to keep the souls at bay but help them see their way from the earth to the beyond.

Costumes were adorned during these early festivities, usually those made from the skins and heads of dead animals. The Celts would try to make predictions for one another, gathered around the large bonfire, then returned home to start their own hearth fire back again. They would use a flame from the Samhain bonfire, believing this would help to protect themselves and their homes.

The Transformation

Eventually, the holiday we know as Halloween became known this way after Christian missionaries set out to tamper with the ways the Celts practiced religion. The holiday really began to change following the Roman’s domination over most of the Celtic territory. Samhain was then combined with two Roman holidays.

Samhain was declared pagan as Christianity spread, and a celebration associated with the devil and all things evil. Since Druids were priests and scholars of the practice deemed pagan, these scholarly men were seen as worshipers of evil and the Devil. Christians categorized the underworld of the Celts as tied in with Hell. Many held on strong to their core beliefs as the changes were made.

First – All Souls Day was started, where the living paid homage to the dead, or souls, who had passed. This took place on November 2 of each year. All Saints Day occurred on November 1, but it was the night before All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows, that the lines between the living world and the spiritual one were blurred. This night was called All Hallows Eve, and eventually Halloween. The Celts maintained many of their beliefs and traditions involving this holiday and time of year. One change that happened was that the spirits, once viewed as simply mischievous, were considered evil. This is how the Druids and Celts and Halloween all went down in history together.

The Druids and Celts and Halloween Connected to Modern Traditions

Though the holiday saw many changes in both name and traditions, much of the modern day celebrations can be said to still be tied to original Samhain practices. For example, the Celts wore the hides and heads of animals as costumes during this event, and the use of costumes is still practiced today.

Trick-or-treating is another example of Celt traditions that live on. Since, originally, people left food and offerings to wandering spirits to appease them, people began to use costumes of spirits to go from door to door to collect these offerings. This is what became the first true type of trick-or-treating.

While customs continue to change and evolve, it is doubtful the holiday will ever transform so much that there will not be some remaining proof of the Druids and Celts and Halloween connection.

Traditions of Halloween

Posted by admin On May - 17 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Traditions of Halloween

Celtic people are responsible for the core of Halloween, as it was first celebrated in their traditions and folklore. They formed a society about 800 BC. Celts were located in the UK, part of Turkey (rather odd!) and a lot of Western Europe. They held a big party close to the end of October which was called Samhain. This was to recognize the end of Summer and the harvest, no doubt. Celts thought that the connection and separation between the real world and the world of the dead and spirits, was thin at this time of year. Friends and relatives returned for a short stay and often in the form of a black cat, which is why that symbol can still represent Halloween.

After harvest, food was offered to the gods. Almost like a modern food drive, they went door to door for food donations, which they then gave to the deities. Young people from that time asked for kindling and firewood for a bonfire, which they made on top of a hill. This tradition of going from door to door may have been the root for trick or treating. Sacred bonfires were often lit during Samhain, in order to honor the Celtic gods. An ember was kept from the bonfire and villagers would light their own fires when they returned home.

A gourd or turnip was used to carry the ember as it would be sheltered from the wind and not burn the wet gourd or turnip pulp. Evil spirits dwelled amongst the Celts, or so they thought, so on a long dark walk home they would disguise themselves in costumes and also scare away the spirits by carving fierce faces on the ember holders. This also carries through to today with lit pumpkins and costumes. Pumpkins are considerably easier to carve than a small turnip or beetroot or gourd.

Neopagans and wiccans continue to celebrate Samhain to this day as they base a lot of their faith on the ancient Celts. Some traditions were based on the Celtic ones but some have evolved from other sources. The Jack O’Lantern came from a 17th century Irish folktale. The devil took pity on a departed soul who was not allowed into either heaven or hell, and gave him a burning coal to light his way as he wandered around the globe. This Jack took to carrying the ember in a partially eaten turnip.

Apples have been associated with goddesses for a long time, as they were with Adam & Eve, There association with immortality, knowledge and resurrection has made them an icon. A five-pointed star is revealed if an apple is sliced through its equator. A pentagram came from this symbol, it’s thought. The latter is a goddess symbol for Gypsies, ancient Egyptians and Celts, and contemporary Wiccans and others. Bobbing for apples and trying to grab a dangling apple was a game for singles who, if they grabbed an apple, were said to be in line for a marriage proposal.

If someone peeled an apple in front of a mirror lit with candles (one would hope that they’d keep their eyes on the knife!), then an image of a future spouse was supposed to appear. If the peeler could make a long string of peel then this was said to “guestimate” how long a person would live. On All Souls Day, Christians from Europe would go door to door asking for currant buns or soul cakes. If they got any, they’d pray for the homeowner’s relatives.

All Hallow’s Eve was the original name for Halloween. This meant the evening right before All Saints Day. Hallow meant saint in old English and the phrase was eventually shortened to Halloween.