Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Hi, Pat McDermott here, getting ready for lots of chocolate and cute little pixies ringing the doorbell. The origins of Halloween are rife on the blogs these days, so I’ll keep this brief. I suspect that millions of children preparing for Halloween are unaware of its Celtic/Irish origins in the Samhain (Sow-win) festival. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Samhain, the Celtic New Year, marked the end of summer and the start of winter. The boundary between the world of the living and the dead was at its thinnest at Samhain, and the Celts believed the spirits of their ancestors passed through that boundary.

In every Irish settlement, families honored their forebears by inviting them into their homes even as they warded off harm by dressing in costumes and masks to thwart evil spirits. While housewives prepared food for both the living and the dead, their farmer husbands inventoried food supplies and slaughtered livestock to augment their winter diets. The people allowed their household fires to go out, and they tossed the animals’ bones and other various sacrifices onto communal bonfires from which each hearth was ceremoniously relit.

The arrival of Christianity incorporated the Samhain celebration into the Christian calendar by renaming October
31st All Saints’ Day and November 1st All Souls’ Day. Several customs survived these name changes, including the wearing of costumes and masks. The Irish who emigrated during the 19th century famine carried their Halloween customs to America, where they melded with the harvest traditions of other cultures.

Best wishes for a fun and safe Halloween!

Pat's Web Site and Blog


  1. Thank you for your post and the lovely faerie in green. Happy Halloween!

  2. Thanks! Halloween is my favorite holiday. Could be because it's my birthday, but still... Great post!

  3. Thanks, Victoria. An early Happy Birthday to you!

  4. Happy Birthday, Victoria! What a great day to be born.

  5. Happy Halloween to all of you,
    Loved the post.

  6. Same to you, Rebecca. Thanks for popping in!