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THE ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN

The ancient Celtic festival called Samhain is considered by many to be a predecessor of our contemporary Halloween. Samhain was the New Year's Day of the Celts and was celebrated on 1 November. It was a joyful harvest festival that marked the death of the old year and the beginning of a new one. It was also a day of the dead, a time when it was believed that the souls of those who had died during the year were allowed access to the land of the dead. It was related to the season, by Samhain the crops should be harvested and the animals brought in from the distant fields. Many traditional beliefs and customs were associated with Samhain. Most notable was that night was the time of the wandering dead, the practice of leaving offerings of food and drink to masked and costumed revelers, and the lighting of bonfires, continued to be practiced on 31 October, known as the Eve of All Saints, the Eve of All Hallows, or Hallow Even. It is the glossing of the name Hallow Even that has given us the name Hallow e'en. Come evening, evil spirits were everywhere. Charms and spells were said to have more power on the eve of Samhain. The spirits of Samhain, once thought to be wild and powerful, were now said to be something worse: Evil. The church maintained that the gods and goddesses and other spiritual beings of traditional religions were diabolical deceptions, that the spiritual forces that people had experienced were real, but they were manifestations of the Devil, the Prince of Liars, who misled people toward the worship of false idols. Thus, the customs associated with Halloween included representations of ghosts and human skeletons--symbols of the dead--and of the devil and other malevolent, evil creatures, such as witches were said to be. The original festival for the pagan Lord of the Dead became a festival of Christian dead. People went on expecting the arrival of ghosts on Oct. 31st. Halloween has become one of the most widely celebrated festivals on the contemporary American calendar, and it is not even officially a holiday. No day off is given for Halloween, no federal decree is proclaimed establishing it as a national holiday. People just celebrate it! (This text supplied courtesy of Spooky's Halloween Crypt...please see the link below!) This site best used with the Nightmare font, click on the tree to get it!

THE ORIGINS OF THE JACK O'LANTERN

Pumpkins are carved into Jack O'Lanterns for Halloween. How did the pumpkin become associated with Halloween? Well the answer is in the tale of an unfortunate soul named Jack. According to Irish folklore a man named Jack, well known for his drunkenness and quick temper, got very drunk at a local pub on All Hallows Eve. As his life began to slip away, the Devil appeared to claim Jack's soul. Jack, eager to stay alive, begged the Devil to let him have just one more drink before he died. The Devil agreed. Jack was short of money and asked the Devil if he wouldn't mind assuming the shape of a sixpence so Jack could pay for the drink and after the transaction the Devil could change back. The Devil agreed again to help Jack out and changed himself into a sixpence. Jack immediately grabbed the coin and shoved it into his wallet, which just happened to have a cross-shaped catch on it. The Devil, now imprisoned in the wallet, screamed with rage and ordered Jack to release him. Jack agreed to free the Devil from his wallet if the Devil agreed not to bother Jack for a whole year. Again, the Devil agreed to Jack's terms. Realizing he now had a new lease on life, at least for a year, Jack decided to mend his ways. For a time Jack was good to his wife and children and began to attend church and give charity. Eventually Jack slipped back into his evil ways. The next All Hallows Eve as Jack was heading home, the Devil appeared and demanded that Jack accompany him. Once again Jack, not too eager to die, distracted the devil by pointing to a nearby apple tree. Jack convinced the Devil to get an apple out of the tree and even offered to hoist the Devil up on his shoulders to help him get the apple. The Devil, fooled once again by Jack, climbed into the tree and plucked an apple. Jack took out a knife and carved a cross into the trunk of the tree. Trapped once again the Devil howled to be released and told Jack he would give him 10 years of peace in exchange for his release. Jack, on the other hand, insisted the Devil never bother him again. The Devil agreed and was released. Almost a year later Jack's body, unable to keep up with Jack's evil ways, gave out and Jack died. When Jack tried to enter Heaven he was told that because of his meanness he would not be allowed into Heaven. When Jack attempted to gain entry into Hell, the Devil, still smarting from years of humiliation refused Jack admission. However, the Devil threw Jack a piece of coal to help him find his way in the dark of limbo. Jack put the piece of coal into a turnip and it became known as a Jack O'Lantern. On All Hallows Eve, if you look, you can still see Jack's flame burning dimly as he searches for a home. The use of Jack O'Lanterns as festival lights for Halloween is a custom that descended from the Irish who used carved out turnips or beets as lanterns. On Halloween, these lights represented the souls of the dead or goblins freed from the dead. When the Irish emigrated to America, they could not find many turnips to carve into Jack O'Lanterns but they did find an abundance of pumpkins. Pumpkins seemed to be a suitable substitute for the turnips and pumpkins have been an essential part of Halloween celebrations ever since.
(pumpkin photo courtesy of DARQFIRE)

HAUNTED LINKS TO OTHER REALMS

WOLFIE'S HALLOWEEN HORROR FEST!: HOME
WOLFIE'S HALLOWEEN GOODIES: Other tricks and treats
WOLFIE PRESENTS SCREAMS FROM THE ATTIC: Curios
WOLFIE'S TRICKS AND TREATS: Recipes
SPOOKY'S HALLOWEEN CRYPT:Great site for graphics and such
WOLFIE PRESENTS THE DARKEST HOUR: The Gothic Site

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