August 7, 2011

History of the Halloween Holiday


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Did you know that our Halloween celebration originated many years ago in Europe? In ancient days it was a Celtic holiday called the Festival of Samhain. The Celts lived in England, Ireland, Scotland and other European countries.  They believed that on October 31, the day of Samhain, the spirits of dead people came to earth and so they left out food for them. They also wore masks to hide from the spirits. After many years the Romans took over the lands of the Celts. The Romans worshipped a goddess named Pomona who was the goddess of fruit trees. They would leave fruit and nuts for her.

Our custom of trick or treating comes mainly from an ancient custom called "souling." Poorer women and children would go around begging for cakes, apples or money from those who were better off. Housekeepers in those wealthy households would bake "soul cakes" to have ready for the beggars, but they might also have given out biscuits, apples or nuts. There are various versions of the "souling song." Here is one from Cheshire, England: "Soul, soul, a apple or two ; If ye han noo apples, pears 'un do; Please, good Missis, a soul-cake ; Put yur hand t'yur pocket, Tak' ait yur keys, Go dain i' yur cellar, Bring what yo please, A apple, a pear, A plum, or a cherry, Or any good thing That'll make us all merry." You might recognize a more modern version of this chant sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. It is called A 'Soalin' and is available on this Peter Paul and Mary CD from Amazon: In Concert

If your young ones are going out "souling" on this Halloween they will need a nice roomy bag such as this one to collect all their "soul cakes!"

Halloween Pumpkin Bag bag

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