October 31, 2017
Happy Halloween everyone! Do you know the history of Halloween? In this edition we unearth some of the harvest festivals and Roman holidays that evolved over time to our own trick or treating! Enjoy the episode, for educational purposes (so if you're not entertained, go get some candy or something). Thanks for listening!
Hauger History Halloween!
This podcast is intended for educational purposes only. Entertainment not guaranteed.
How did the howling of halloween historically hitch itself?
On the Eve of All Soul’s Day, in the Liturgical calendar of the Church, in a week 500 years after Martin Luther posted his theses, on the doors of Schlosskirche. The Gaelic festival Sowin, spelled Samhain, widely observed in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of man preparing cattle and harvests for fall.
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with the end of life.
Celts believed the division between the living and dead becomes less defined. The Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn produce and animals as a form of sacrifice to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, often consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the party was finished, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the dangers coming winter.
By the year 43 CE, Romans had expanded their empire conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas. (History.com)
The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.
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