Irish All Hallows Eve
The history of Halloween began with the Irish and All Hallows Eve. Like other historic festivals, it is a tradition that has been passed down from one generation to the next. As time goes on, the origins become distorted and it evolves so gradually over the ages, that we hardly realize it. Trick or treat may seem like innocent fun but the origin of Halloween is filled with frightening stories featuring ghosts, witches, monsters, evils, elves and animal sacrifices. Are these stories a myth or is there some truth to it?

Halloween, or the Hallow E'en as they call it in Ireland, means All Hallows Eve, or the night before All Hallows Day, which is also called All Hallowmas or All Saints Day, observed on November 1st. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans observed All Hallows Day to honor all saints in heaven. It was a day of solemnity as one of the most significant observances of the church year and Catholics were obliged to attend mass.

In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day to replace the Pagan festival of the dead, observed on May 13th. Later, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1st. During the festival of the dead, the Celtic Druids would dance around open fires, draped in scary costumes with masks. The American version of the Halloween celebration owes its origin to these ancient pagans and the fire festival called Samhain which was celebrated by the Celtic people. In Ireland the festival was known as Samhain, or La Samon, the Feast of the Sun. According to one Irish-English dictionary, Samhain or All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in pagan and Christian times, signified the close of the harvest season. There is no evidence that Samhain was a deity or Celtic god. Faeries and banshees were imagined to be particularly active during this time. In later years, the people went into hiding by locking their doors and snuffing out the candles so these creatures wouldn't darken their doorstep. Most of the customs connected with Halloween are remnants of ancient religious beliefs, first of the Druids, then by the Roman Christians who conquered them.

Halloween's history is one of religious traditions, sacrifices and folklore. While it seems strange to understand what brought on these ancient beliefs, it is interesting to know the roots of our contemporary Halloween celebrations.

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