Halloween : A day to remember the dead

"Halloween", the words prompts the image of small children being dressed up as white ghosts and ringing bells door to door and say "trick-or-treat" to collect candies. But there is probably more to Halloween than just this.  Halloween also was known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration which is observed in a number of countries on the date of 31 October's the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the mark of a three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed and the loved ones.

Meaning of Halloween 

The word Halloween is of Christian origin and dates back to 1745. The word "Hallowe'en" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening". It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). In Scots, the word "eve" is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Hallowe'en. Although the phrase "All Hallows'" is found in Old English "All Hallows' Eve" is itself not seen until 1556.

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On this day of the year, everyone decorates their neighborhood as well as their houses in a scary and creepy manner. Children dress up as witches, paper-bagged goblins, rubber-masked imps and bed-sheeted ghosts and move from door to door to collect as many candies as they could and wish everyone "Trick-o-Treat".

Why is Halloween celebrated?

Halloween is celebrated on the evening of October 31st, which is the evening before the Christian feast of All Saint’s Day. Its history dates back to the ancient religion of the Celtic tribes (circa 500 B.C.) from whom the Britons, Scots and the Irish came. Present day Britains, Scots, Welsh and Irish are all descendants of these ancient Celtic tribes.

The Celts worshipped nature and believed in the spirit world. They worshipped over 300 gods. They had their strongest belief's in the god of the sun as they celebrated two festivals revolving around the sun. Beltane, which marked the beginning of summer and Samhain/Saman marking the start of winters.

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The Celts believed that at the end of summer, Samhain, the lord of death becomes powerful and overpowers the sun god. On October 31, Samhain assembles all the evil spirits who had died the previous year and allows them to return home to visit the living ones.

On October 31, after the harvest, the druids would meet under an oak grove or near large stone circles where they performed sacrifices. Some believe that the Stonehenge in England is one such druid circle. The priests would light great fires and offer sacrifices to Samhain to ensure that the sun returned after the winter.

 At night all fires were extinguished but not the sacrificial one to Samhain and The Vigil of Samhain, as it was called, and the next day embers from this fire would be used to light the fire in each household.

Villagers would try to appease the goblins and the demons with offerings of food and nuts and by leaving little treats that the household had to offer, to satisfy the hunger of these demons. If the demon was satisfied with the treat, it was believed it would not trick the person or cast an evil spell which led to the origin of the present day trick or treats.

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Hence, Halloween is celebrated and enjoyed all over the countries around the world and this festival brings a lot of joy among the children and reminds us of our lost ones.