Hark! Hark to the wind! 'Tis the night,
When all souls come back from the far away;
The dead, forgotten this many a day!
~ Virna Sheard ~
HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO YOU ALL FROM THE JERSEY CATS EMPORIUM
(by Harry Behn)
Tonight is the night
When dead leaves fly
Like witches on switches
Across the sky,
When elf and sprite
Flit through the night
On a moony sheen.
Tonight is the night
When leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home
Under the ground,
When spooks and trolls
Creep out of holes
Mossy and green.
Tonight is the night
When pumpkins stare
Through sheaves and leaves
When ghoul and ghost
And goblin host
Dance round their queen.
Here are Simba and Aurora's Halloween Costumes for 2010:
Simba And Aurora as the Mario Brothers
Halloween is finally here
Tricks and treats galore
Little ones all dressed up
Eager to be out the door
Witches with their brooms
A goblin here and there
A multitude of monsters
Sporting claws and hair
A beautiful princess maiden
Angels with halo and wings
A ghost floating slowly by
Clowns, rock stars and kings
Bags full of assorted candy
Maybe a shiny coin or two
Red apples a healthy treat
Tricks are played on you
A strange but fun holiday
Enjoyed by young and old
With haunted houses to visit
And scary stories to be told
Halloween history dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, approximately 2000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the UK, and northern France. They celebrated their new year on November 1st, a day marking the end of the summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. This was a time of year that was often associated with human death. 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, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Celtic priests (Druids) to make predictions about the future. These people where very dependent on their natural world, and these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
For Halloween history, Druids built sacred bonfires, and people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the 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 had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The night before it began was called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
The American tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.
The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.
The story of Halloween
goes back over 2000 years to the ancient Celts. Druidic
priests regarded the day as the end of the year. Not only was it their day for celebrating
the year's harvest, but October 31 itself was also the day of Samhain, a festival for
honoring the dead. In order to appease the wandering spirits they believed roamed at
night, the Celtic priests made fires in which they burned sacrifices, made charms, and
of the Celtic holiday
of the dead eventually passed into Christian
culture after the Romans conquered the Celts and tried to bring the Celts into the
"Christian fold." It eventually became apparent to the church leaders that the
Celts, in spite of their conformation to some aspects of Christian culture, were
stubbornly sticking with elements of their old religion.
So, in the seventh century
the church moved its All Saints' Day, a holiday for honoring
early Christian martyrs, from a day in May to November 1, thus associating it with the old
Druid death rituals of October 31. By the tenth century A.D., the Catholic Church had
added a new holiday, All Souls' Day. This day was set aside to honor all of the dead, not
just the early Christian Saints.
Celebration of Halloween
came to America with early Irish
and Scottish immigrants. By then,
though, it had already started to lose its mysterious overtones and was becoming merely a
harvest celebration: a night of bobbing for apples, eating popcorn, and telling ghost
stories around a bonfire. It was already changing into the holiday for children with which
we in the 20th century are so familiar.
Trick or Treating -
The story behind trick or treating dates back to the earliest times, when people wore masks when droughts or diseases or other disasters struck. They believed that the hideous masks could frighten off the demons who brought about their misfortunes. The pagan festival of Samhain came at a time of year when the weather was turning chilly and the cold, envious ghosts outside were constantly trying to trick mortals into letting them in by the fire. People who went out after dark often wore masks to keep from being recognized.
went on throughout Europe. In parts of England the poor once went to houses singing and begging for soul cakes or money. Until very recently children would dress up as ghosts and goblins to scare the neighbors, but there was no trick or treating. Around 40 years ago people began to offer treats to their costumed visitors Spanish people put cakes and nuts on graves on Halloween, to bribe the evil spirits.
The Irish brought Halloween to America in the 1840's although the custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have its origins in a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they promised to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. It was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, would expedite a soul's admittance into heaven.
Over time the custom changed and children became the beggars. As they went from house to house they would be given apples, buns, and money and other treats to insure that the ghosts or goblins didn't play tricks.
Just the name of this holiday brings images of ghosts, witches, and goblins to mind. Yet it is the favorite holiday for many kids and many adults like me. Where did Halloween come from?
Halloween was first celebrated by the Celts, who lived in Scotland and Ireland in ancient times. The Celts held a special festival to celebrate Samhain, the god of the dead. Some sources indicate that Gaelic word "Samhain" literally means "summer's end".
The day they chose was their New Year’s Eve, October 31 on our calendar. They believed the souls of the dead returned to visit their homes on this one night of the year to try to find another body to inhabit.
Homes had no fires in the hearth and the adults dressed as demons or witches so that no spirit would want to inhabit their body. Everyone would make their way out of town to the huge bonfires that were lit to draw the spirits away from town.
The other holiday which blended into our modern Halloween, is All Hallows’ Eve the Christian holiday to honor the saints. People believed that on this night, witches (in the form of black cats), flew about and ghosts and demons were free to roam the land. It was the night to have your future told or play games like bobbing for apples.
The Irish thought leprechauns played pranks on Halloween, so mischief- making was added to the celebration of Halloween.
In Scotland, a hollowed out turnip was used as lantern to light your way in the dark of the night.
As people immigrated to North America, they each brought their own bit of Halloween with them. All the customs blended into our modern Halloween.
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