Well, here we go again, another Halloween and another Karen talking about how Halloween is the “Devil’s holiday” and how Hocus Pocus 2 is going to be letting the devil into your house and a curse in the house and blah blah blah. Just stop. Just stop, it isn’t going to be any of those things. In fact a lot of the stuff that Halloween WAS about was indoctrinated by the freaking church. Yeah, there are a lot of roots in ancient Gaelic and Celtic traditions in Samhain (Sow-ain) and other festivals held in fall. And many scholars believe that the holiday was Christianized by the early church in All Saints Day and its Eve. Or Hallowsday and ALL Hallows Eve.
The Holiday have celebrations remembering the dead, the saints, and the martyrs. So far no devil, huh?
OK, Halloween, today is way off from what it used to be. Today it is ghosts, candy, costumes, festivals, haunted houses and scary movies. Not much soul cakes being ate here in America, unless you count the endless amount of sugary cupcakes eaten at every Halloween party?
Back to the Old world Halloween, so back in Rome. Why is it that all roads and stories end up back in Rome?
I mean…. they did have a lot of holidays.. although the ancient Roman’s version or sorta kinda but probably not version of Halloween wasn’t even in October. It was in MAY! The Holiday was called Lemuria (LEH-MUR-EEAH*roll the R!) or Lumeralia, and this holiday was celebrating the dead. The days were the 9th, the 11th, and the 13th of May. Ovid said this holiday was started to appease the dead spirit of Remmus after he was murdered by his brother Romulus. He would get up at midnight, and toss his beans as he walked the streets barefoot. I mean actual beans not like puking or anything. We all know those Romans loved a good bit of partying but this is a more um.. somberish thing. The head of the house would get up at midnight and walking around the home barefoot, he would toss beans over his shoulder. The Paterfamilias(head of the house) would then say “Haec ego mitto; his redimo meque meosque fabis” or I send these; with these beans I redeem me and mine . And then the household would bang pots and pans together and shout back “Ghosts of my fathers and ancestors, be gone” nine times.
These exorcisms would make May a bad time for anyone to get married and was considered bad luck to do so. Also on these days the Vestals would make the sacred Mola Salsa, which is a salted flour cake made with the first ears of the season.
Oh those Ancient Romans. We love them don’t we? The was also Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is sometimes still played today at parties.
Eventually the holiday would be wiped out by Christianity and the dates of commemorating the dead would be on November 1st, with October 31st was the eve. There was debate on whether it was the Germanic influence or Celtic influence that made the changes, since both were seen to commemorate the dead at the beginning of the winter.Like the dying in nature. This would also influence other holidays in December. Of course some may also speculate that the Roman Fever was the other reason, as it would be easier to accommodate any pilgrims. Nothing like good old disease right to change a holiday season. Not like we know anything about that or anything *cough* covid*cough cough*
Roman fever, is you know not just something we get when watching Barbarians on Netflix but it was a real thing that took a lot of lives in the summers.
On May 13, A.D. 609, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1
Back in A.D. 1000, the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It’s widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls’ Day was celebrated kind of in a similar fashion to Samhain. There were bonfires and parties.
Coming to America!
Halloween did eventually makes it’s way to the colonies. But, in the mostly strict Protestant New England, it wasn’t acknowledged as much. In Maryland and the south it was celebrated more. They would hold public harvest events. Ghost stories would be told and other types of mischievous things. There would be dancing and singing as well as fortune telling.
With most things in America, as more cultures and immigrants come to America Halloween started to change with more Irish, German, and Scottish immigrants and their traditions. Halloween was still not widely celebrated by everyone. Eventually people would dress up and trick or treat.
In the late 1800s, there was a move here in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. It wouldn’t last completely and people still would go out of their way to be vandals. And Halloween would Morphe more and more into a fun, but scary candy filled time of year.It was in the 1930’s in Chicago where a lot pranks were being done. Some in good fun and others for the sheer fun of it and would result in a lot of damages. Haunted houses, trick or treating, pumpkin carvings, block parties, as well as scary movies it what we know today.