I am one of the few people in Oz that loves celebrating Halloween and although this year I didn't go to my usual effort I still prepared the lolly bags and put a few pumpkins around.
I'm sure the seven kids that knocked at my door appreciated the small effort?
Preparing Lolly Bags
All were encouraged to join in the Halloween spirit!
And for those who think Halloween is an American, over commercialised, heap of hoohah here is a little history lesson.........
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts who lived 2000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France celebrated their New Year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, 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. Ont he night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event Druids built huge sacred bonfires where the 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 AD 43 Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory and in the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead and the second was a day to honour Pomona the Roman goddess of fruit trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800's the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands and in the seventh century Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 'All Saints Day', a time to honour 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 celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain began to be called All-hallows Eve and eventually Halloween.
Even later in AD 1000 the church would make November 2 'All Souls Day' a day to honour the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. Together the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints, All Saints and All Souls were called Hallomas.
Today Halloween is a time that reconfirms the social bond of a neighbourhood (particularly the bond between strangers and different generations) by a ritual act of trade. Children go to lengths to dress up and overcome their fear of strangers in exchange for candy. And adults buy the candy and overcome their distrust of strange children in exchange for the pleasure of seeing their wild outfits and vicariously reliving their own adventures as children.
In other words the true value and importance of Halloween comes not from parading in costumes in front of close friends and family but from this interchange with strangers, exorcising our fears of strangers and reaffirming our social bond with the people of the neighbourhood who we rarely if ever see the rest of the year.
Happy Halloween :-)