Samhain (sow-an) is the time that the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest, or so those who honor their dead believed. In many cultures there is a day to honor our loved ones who have passed on. Los Muertos (Nov 2nd) Day of the Dead in Mexico the most festive next to our own. In a way. Looking back in time across the globe, this time of year seems to match consistently with cultures turning from the light and warmth of summer harvest to the passing of life and earthly bound wonders of fall. The death of one season births the turn of the other. In this transition those closest to the earth, the Farmers the Country Folk who tended crops and recognized this, follow close with their personal beliefs as well.
In ancient times it was believed that this is the time that our ancestors would return to visit us, to give help and advice. People set out lights in hollowed-out turnips to guide the spirits of the dead (the fore-runners of the modern Jack-o-lanterns) and put out food as an offering (which evolved to the modern tradition of “trick-or-treating”).
Why did it Halloween evolve into something dark and sinister in some beliefs then? It varies, of course in what you choose to believe, but with ever festive celebration is the potential for adverse thought. No one is going to follow your thinking 100% of the time.
About 700 AD to bring in and convert country folk of Ireland, the Church made some changes to their calendar. All Saints Day – formerly May 13th was moved (as decreed by church documents) to Nov 1. The day to honor those of grace. All Saints Day also called All Hallows or Hallowmas day was then followed on Nov 2nd by All Souls Day. The day of honoring our dead. This closely matching Roman Lemuria in which milk was poured over the graves of the deceased to honor their passing. Little lights were left along with cake like treats, to appease the earth-bound spirits at harvest and make sure good crops and continued growth in the next season. Lemuria is the root for luminaries aka Jack O Lanterns. No I didn’t just put Windex on my elbow.
During this time there were of course conflicts in the view points and beliefs of country folk vrs the church. More babies were made during this time, not surprising considering the nights turned cold. House of Thatch = warm snuggly love time! Why did most women squat in a field to birth a babe? Because in late August these fall babies were coming into the world during first crop harvest. Often women would birth, rest, and go back to the heavy work at hand of getting the seasons barley wheat and main crop load out of the field. This all again revolving the core Almanac of Life that was very present in these lives.
Now its a beautiful cool fall evening. Once Halloween made it to America, it transitioned into festival and fun. Made of goblins witches ghosties and fun. Treats await behind every door and our homes take on a warm glow. We go to parties where we get to put on a mask and be something other than ourselves for one night. Taking on personality and form we “Ogggy Booo” our friends loved ones and little people.
Great Series to watch =
The History Channel The Real Story of Halloween
My Favorite Halloween Movies: