dimecres, 31 d’octubre de 2012

The origins of Halloween

The origins of Halloween go back to the ancient Celts [kelts]. The Celts lived in the British Isles. They were pagans. They believed in the gods of nature.

Samhain [saun] was the last day of the year on the Celtic calendar. It marked the end of summer, on October 31st. Samhain was also the Celtic god of death. The Celts were afraid of winter. They associated it with death and evil spirits. People wanted to drive away all the evil spirits before the beginning of the new year on November 1st. The Druids were Celtic priests and teachers. Everyone respected them. They practiced magic and religious rituals. They made big fires to frighten the spirits of evil and death. The Celts believed that on the night of 31st October, ghosts came out of their tombs. The spirits of the dead returned to earth.
After the Roman invasion in 43 AD., Samhain also became a harvest festival. The Romans had a harvest festival called Pomona, who was the Roman goddess of gardens and orchads. Apples were sacred and lucky! The colours of Halloween are orange and black. They represent the harvest (orange) and death (black).
After the Roman invasion, Christian rites substituted pagan rites. The first day of November was the day of all saints for the Christians. It was called All Hallows' Day (the day of all saints). The evening of October 31 was All Hallows' Eve. This was shortened to Halloween.
The Druid religion went on for a long time in Ireland and Scotland. In the 19th century, Irish immigrants brought their Halloween customs to the United States. Now it's on every American calendar.
Nowadays, Halloween is celebrated with fancy dress parties and, particularly in the USA, ‘Trick or Treating’. Children dress up as witches, wizards, ghosts and monsters and go round to their neighbours’ houses, saying ‘Trick or Treat’. The neighbours must give them a treat, usually some kind of sweet. If they don’t, the children will play a trick on them – for example – stick down the doorbell with sticky tape so that it rings continually. Trick or Treating is now becoming popular in the UK. Children make  and play traditional Halloween games, such as “bobbing for apples” (the child has to retrieve an apple from a bowl of water, using only his/her mouth).

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