October 31st is Halloween. It is a fun event in the United States, Great Britain and, now, in many other countries too.
The origins of Halloween
Halloween has Celtic origins. The Celtic calendar was in two parts: summer and winter. Summer was from May to the end of October, and winter was from November to the end of April. The ancient Celtic festivity Samhain celebrated the end of the year: the start of winter. It began on the evening of October 31st and continued until the next day.
Druids were Celtic priests. On October 31st they performed religious rituals and talked about future events. The Celts believed that ghosts, witches, and evil spirits returned on the night of October 31st. They believed that evil spirits entered the body of a person or animal. They wore frightening costumes and made big fires to send them away.
The colours of Halloween -orange and black- are of Celtic origin too. Orange was the colour of the harvest, and black was the colour of winter and long nights. The Druids believed that black cats had special powers and could feel if spirits were near, so black cats have become symbols of Halloween.
The Romans invaded Great Britain in AD 43. After this invasion Samhain became a harvest festival, and on October 31st the Romans honoured their goddess of fruit trees, Pomona.
During the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church put Christian festivities in the place of pre-Christian festivities. In the eighth century the Church decided to call 1st November All Saints’ Day. Another name for this day was All Hallows’ Day. The evening of 31st October was All Hallows’ Eve. This became Halloween.
D.B. CLEMAN, Gina. British and American Festivities. Black Cat Publishing, 2004.
Now, let's see if you have understood the previous text. You can answer the following questions:
- When do we celebrate Halloween?
- What are the origins of Halloween?
- When was Samhain?
- Who were the Druids?
- What are the colours of Halloween?