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2009-10-29 10:24:05
The origin of Halloween goes further than All Saints Day. Halloween can be traced back more than 2,000 years to a Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced SAH-wen) that celebrated the end of the summer harvest season. The Celts believed that the spirits of the dead roamed the towns and villages on the night of October 31. Because the Celts were superstitious, they feared that these spirits could create havoc by damaging crops, creating sickness and even taking over the bodies of the living. To ward off danger, the Celts lighted huge bonfires and dressed in animal hides to frighten away the evil spirits. Samhain was a pagan celebration. As Christianity became dominant in Europe, the Catholic Church decided it didn't like people celebrating a non-Christian holiday. Around the year 800, the church moved a spring holiday, All Saints' Day, to November 1. "Hallows" is another word for "saints", so the night before All Saints' Day became known as All Hallows' Eve. From that, it became Halloween. Today people light up the night with creepy decorations and jack-o'-lanterns (you should see my place). Instead of animal hides, most kids prefer to wear spooky costumes ;-) As far as trick-or-treating is concerned, it's not well understood. Some people think it began with a custom called souling, when the poor went to people's homes begging for soul cakes, round pieces of bread with currants. In return for the treats, the beggars would pray to help the recently deceased enter heaven. Some trivia: The ancients Celts (the 'C' is pronounced with a 'K' sound) lived in Northern Europe, especially Ireland, Britain and France. Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in Canada and the United States.