Thursday, July 28, 2016
Contact us    |    Advertise    |   Help   RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon
    Home  ·  News  ·  Forum  ·  Stories  ·  Image Gallery  ·  Columns  ·  Encyclopedia  ·  Videos
Find: in
Unexplained Mysteries is always on the look out for new article writers and contributors. If you've written articles, reviews, news stories or other material that you would like published for free on the site then we want to hear from you - Click here for details.
  Columnist: Taylor Reints

Image credit:

Halloween: a history

Posted on Wednesday, 31 October, 2012 | 4 comments
Columnist: Taylor Reints

Halloween is an observance that exemplifies the meaning of fear. On this day, millions of children will dress their scariest, hoping to get a taste of candy. But where exactly did Halloween come from?

Perhaps the oldest record of a holiday similar to Halloween was practiced by the Celts in an event called Samhain. According to the Celtic calendar, the beginning of the year started on November 1. They believed that on October 31 and November 1, the door to the netherworld opened, allowing the spirits of the dead to return to Earth. The Celts celebrated with a large festival and feast. Also, Celtic priests—druids—built large bonfires, where they sacrificed animals and crops to their gods. After setting everything ablaze, they extinguished the fire, and then they would try to predict peoples’ futures while wearing animal skins. They would then light the fire again, as they believed it would bring them safety during the new year.

Shortly after the death of Jesus, the Roman Empire expanded, and it conquered much Celtic land. The Romans combined Samhain with two of their festivals: Feralia and the honoring of Pomona. Feralia was a festival in late October that honored the passing of the dead. The second observance honored Pomona—the goddess of fruit and trees. The apple is the symbol of Pomona and may explain how bobbing for apples became a popular Halloween activity.

After the fall of Rome, on May 13, 609 C.E., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Greek and Roman pantheon to honor all dead martyrs. A holiday—All Martyrs Day—was practiced every year on that day. Pope Gregory III modified the holiday to dedicate all saints, as well as martyrs, and he moved the holiday to November 1. He renamed it All Saints Day. Some people called All Saints Day All-hallows, from the Middle English word for All Saints Day alholowmesse. The day before All Hallows Day was called All Hallows Eve, which was shortened to—you guessed it—Halloween.

The idea of jack-o’-lanterns was first inspired from an old Irish legend. The legend tells of Stingy Jack, a greedy man whom invited the devil over for a drink. Too cheap to pay for his own drink, he coaxes the devil into transforming into a coin. Instead of buying drinks, he put the coin into his pocket next to a silver cross, which disallowed the devil to shapeshift back into himself. He let the devil go, under the condition that he didn’t bother Jack for a full year. The following year, Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree to pick a fruit. While Satan was in the tree, Jack carved a cross into the bark so that he couldn’t come to the ground. Under the condition that the devil leave Jack alone for ten more years, he let him come down from the tree. The legend says that shortly afterwards this encounter, Stingy Jack died. God wouldn’t let him into heaven and Satan—due to his promise—wouldn’t let him into hell. Jack roamed the Earth, then, with only a lantern to guide his way. In Ireland and Scotland, people made interpretations of his lantern on turnips, beats or potatoes, each possessing scary expressions to scare away the soul of Stingy Jack. Today, jack-o’-lanterns have evolved considerably, as most prefer their scary face on a pumpkin.

In the eighteenth century, Halloween finally made it to America. Although the celebration of this holiday was out of accordance with the strict Protestant beliefs of the time, it was still observed in many southern colonies. People celebrated the growing of the harvest, predicted fortunes, told scary stories, danced and sung. By the nineteenth century, trick-or-treating was popularized—mostly due to Irish immigrants—and Americans began dressing up in costumes, going door-to-door asking for food or money.

The origins of this ghoulish holiday go back dozens of hundreds of years ago, and yet, we find that this holiday has only changed a little. The superstition surrounding Halloween still exists, and a good fright can always be found on October 31.

Article Copyright© Taylor Reints - reproduced with permission.

  Other articles by Taylor Reints

An Introduction to 'Cryptobiology'
Columnist: Taylor Reints | Posted on 7-2-2013 | 1 comment
Cryptozoology and cryptobotany are words derived from the Greek root kryptos, which means "hidden". Zoology and botany being the study of animals and plants, cr...

The true end of days
Columnist: Taylor Reints | Posted on 1-11-2013 | 3 comments
Now that December 21, 2012, is done and over with, perhaps it should be explained how we are really all going to die. Don’t fret, though, you may well have to w...

The exorcism of Anneliese Michel
Columnist: Taylor Reints | Posted on 9-21-2012 | 6 comments
Anneliese Michel is the woman whom inspired the plots of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Requiem and Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes, and they are all based on a true...

Doppelganger Danger
Columnist: Taylor Reints | Posted on 8-24-2012 | 7 comments
Have you ever wished to have had a twin? If so, wish granted. Some people believe in paranormal doubles called doppelgängers, German for "double walker". These ...

Mystery and controversy aboard RMS Titanic
Columnist: Taylor Reints | Posted on 7-31-2012 | 0 comments
It was a Sunday, the date: April 14, 1912. Those aboard the RMS Titanic were worry free, some coming to the United States as emigrants, others traveling for pur...

   View: More articles from this columnist ( 10 total )

Last updated forum topics
Forum icon 
Articles by other columnists
The case for the UFO
Posted 7-17-2016
A look at the late UFO researcher Morris K. Jessup.
3 primary psychic mechanisms
Posted 7-2-2016
Kathleen Meadows takes a look at the world of dream interpretation.
Ciphers and symbols
Posted 6-18-2016
Sean Casteel explores the world of Dee and Enochian magick.
Sanatorium Hill
Posted 6-5-2016
Tobias Wayland recounts an unnerving visit to what remains of the Lake View Sanatorium.
"UFO repeaters" - part two
Posted 5-22-2016
More individuals who have seen and photographed UFOs.
Spring romance questions for a psychic
Posted 5-14-2016
Kathleen Meadows on relationship readings.
The Mont Order and the paranormal
Posted 5-9-2016
Do Mont Order members possess supernatural powers ?
The mystery of the "UFO repeaters"
Posted 4-19-2016
A look at the individuals who have seen and photographed UFOs.
The Zone
Posted 4-6-2016
Jann Burner takes an in-depth look at the state of mind commonly referred to as "The Zone".

 View: View more column articles
Top   |  Home   |   Forum   |   News   |   Image Gallery   |  Columns   |   Encyclopedia   |   Videos   |   Polls
UM-X 10.7 © 2001-2015
Privacy Policy and Disclaimer   |   Cookies   |   Advertise   |   Contact   |   Help/FAQ