Tuesday, October 31, 2006

History of Halloween

Contrary to popular conception of the history and meaning of Halloween, the holiday is an amalgamation of ancient pagan beliefs, Christian practices, and modern traditions, all with little to do with devil worship or witchcraft. From OmniNerd:
In the 600s, Pope Boniface IV designated May 13th as All-hallowmas (from Middle English, Alholowmesse, meaning All Saints' Day), a solemn holiday to honor all of the Saints in Heaven and in the Super Dome. By the 800s Christian influence had spread throughout the Roman Empire. In 835, Pope Gregory III changed the date of All-hallowmas to November 1st. The idea was that instead of grinding the old-timey traditions of former Pagan people to dust (the "stick" approach, if you will), thus likely incurring resentment, it would help people ease into Christianity by converting their holidays and festivals into something Church sanctioned (the "carrot" approach, which also has the added benefit of providing healthy eyesight -- unless I'm getting too literal with my metaphors.) The day before All-hallomas became known as All-hallows Eve and eventually just Halloween,10 which is far easier to say after a few pints of Guinness. Later on, in 1000 AD, the Church would designate November 2nd as All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead, with big bonfires (sans village idiot roasting), parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. On this day Christians would also walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made out of square pieces of bread with currants, thus setting down the tradition of “Trick or Treat” minus the trick. And, let’s face it, the treat.

(Thanks Rickie)

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