If you read my earlier post, the title above may have sprung to mind. It is a weird concept if we remove ourselves from the festivities for just a second, and instead have a momentary out of body experience.
Envision yourself looking at your badly sewn together costume, your lop-sided devil horns and staining-for-weeks pasty make-up. Who the devil are you suppose to be? You’re certainly not getting into Hell now. Why is it that we make special efforts on this October night in particular to look extra garish?
Well, let me tell you:
Blame the grandparent’s grandparent’s grandparents
That’s right, the geriatrics are the reason pestering brats come knocking on your door demanding your diabetes inducing sweeties. As it turns out that the ancient Indo-European group, who lived 2,000 years ago, called ‘The Celts‘ celebrated the end of their calendar year on 31st October. It marks the end of harvest season and the beginning of Winter. The festival of celebration is named ‘Samhain‘, pronounced ‘sow-in’. It is believed that the festival has Celtic pagan origins.
So how does this relate to your dad dressing up as Batman?
Costumes during Samhain were worn and fires were lit to ward off any ghosts of the dead, which were believed to rise on the 31st October. In addition to encouraging the foretelling of prophecies by priests and Druids and sacrificial practices to the Celtic deities.
Over time, for example with the invasion of the Romans and influence of Christianity led to a blending of cultural practices on this final October day. Roman’s influenced the ‘bobbing for apples’ by honouring the goddess of fruit and trees – Pomona. Christianity brought ‘All Saints Day’ known as ‘All Hallows day’ a church sanctioned holiday at the time (1000 AD). This took place on November 1st and so 31st October became known as ‘All Hallows Eve’ and eventually ‘Halloween‘.
Why The Term ‘Trick Or Treat?’
At least as far back as the 15th century, among Christians, there had been a custom of sharing soul-cakes at Halloween. People would visit houses and take soul-cakes, either as representatives of the dead, or in return for praying for their souls.
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 neighbourhood and be given ale, food and money.
So there you have it, thank the ancestors for all of these spooky shenanigans.
Check out my Celtic visit to Newgrange