Welcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!
Today we’re going to talk about Halloween. Shocker, right? Since this post is ON the day itself!
What does Halloween have to do with writing? Well, plenty, if you’re into researching the origins of such traditions.
The word Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Eve – or Hallowe’en. It’s also known as All Saints Eve. All Saints Day is a Catholic Holy Day, celebrated on November 1st. Some western Christian faiths also mark November 2nd – All Souls Day. Thus, October 31st begins the three-day celebration of Allhallowtide. This time in the liturgical year is dedicated to remembering the dead including saints (hallows) and martyrs. This three-day feast can be traced to the time of Pope Gregory III, between 731 and 741.
Other traditions mark Halloween has having been descended from Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain. These traditions hold that this festival was Christianized into Halloween.
The Halloween traditions in the USA of trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, divination games, dressing up in costumes, attending haunting houses, playing pranks, lighting bonfires, and carving jack-o-lanterns do not have clear or consistent origins.
The word itself – Halloween or Hallowe’en, dates to roughly 1745 and has Scottish roots, meaning All Hallows Eve. That phrase – All Hallows Eve – doesn’t make an appearance until approximately 1556.
It was not until Scottish and Irish immigration began in the USA in the 19th century that Halloween made an appearance in this country. There were variations of the celebration in Europe well before that time.
Over the years, Halloween became associated with evil or demons, but there are no clear origins that cast it as a feast celebrating either of those concepts.
Whether you celebrate it or not, I find it a fascinating day mainly because of the varied and muddied origins. As humans, our fascination with the dead is something that can be traced back to the earliest civilizations, and some form of it is present in every culture.
I have fond memories of Halloween as a kid and a teen, dressing up in costumes, going out trick-or-treating, and telling ghost stories. I still enjoy it, although things are different now where we live and we don’t get enough trick-or-treaters to make massive decorating a priority any longer.
Until next week, Happy Writing!