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7 Interesting Things on the Origin of Halloween

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Happy Halloween everybody! We take Halloween seriously here on our gorgeous - and at this time of year spooky - estate on San Juan Island, WA. Serious fun - because we all need to engage our playful side and celebrate the gifts we bring to others. With that said, here are some interesting tidbits on the origin of Halloween...

1. Where does Halloween come from?

Halloween is a descendent of the ancient Celtic fire festival called "Samhain" - pronounced "sow-in," with "sow" rhyming with "cow."

2. What does Samhain mean?

The Samhain celebration means "All Hallowtide" - the feast of the dead, signaling the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season. Fairies were imagined to be particularly active this season.

3. Why was the end of summer and beginning of winter significant to the Celts?

The Celts were a primarily a pastoral people. The end of summer was significant to them because it signified a time of the year when the structure of their lives changed dramatically. Cattle were brought down from summer pastures in the hills and people gathered in houses for the long winter nights of storytelling and handcrafts.

4. What does the Samhain celebration have to do with the festival of the dead?

The Celts believed that when people died, they went to the land of eternal youth and happiness called Tir nan Og. They did not have a concept of Heaven or Hell that the Christian church later brought. The dead were sometimes believed to be dwelling with the Fairy Folk, who lived in numerous mounds and hills that dotted the Irish and Scottish countryside. Samhain was the new year to the Celts. In the Celtic belief system, turning points, such as the time between one day and the next, the meeting of sea and shore, or the turning of the year, were seen as magical times. The turning of the year was the most potent of these times, when the veil between the worlds - living and dead - was thinnest, and the living could communicate with their beloved dead in Tir nan Og.

5. What about the so-called demons that we associate with Halloween today?

The Celts did not have demons or devils in their belief system. Fairies, though, were sometimes considered hostile to humans because they were seen as resentful of men taking over their lands. On Halloween, they would sometimes trick humans into becoming lost among the fairy mounds. Also, many humans were out engaging in horseplay and practical jokes, serving as a final outlet for high spirits before the gloom of winter set in. The Samhain celebration was seen as a time to do this, since it was neither one year or the other.

6. What about "trick-or-treat"?

During the course of these hijinks, many people would go house to house imitating the fairies and begging for treats. Failure to supply treats would usually result in some practical joke being visited upon the owner of the house. Since fairies were out and about during the Samhain celebration, an offering of food or milk was often left for them on the steps of the house, so the homeowner could gain the blessings of the "good folk" for the coming year.

7. How about pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns?

Some folks who were out on during the Samhain celebration would carry turnips carved to represent faces. Remember, this was the final harvest of the year and turnips were among the common foods grown. These carved faces on the turnips were the origin of the modern Jack-o-lantern.

Like the Celts, we believe in the power of Spirit, and that we are Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience. So go out and celebrate this wonderful connection between the worlds, share your wonderful gifts, be safe, and look forward to an even better tomorrow.

Primary source: Rowan Moonstone, "The Origins of Halloween"
Image courtesy of arquehistoria.com

About The Clearing

The Clearing is a residential treatment center located on beautiful San Juan Island, Washington. We created The Clearing in response to the pervasiveness of treatment centers that focus more on luxury than modern, evidence-based therapy.

Our approach is based on healing the underlying core issues that cause addiction. If you'd like to learn more, contact us, or download our free eBook:

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Gregg Makuch

This post was written by Gregg Makuch

Gregg helps get the word out about The Clearing. When he’s not riding his bike and enjoying the beauty of the San Juan Islands, Gregg loves to cook and spend time with his family.

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