Times change. But some things don’t.
People like to talk, and talk they do. Whether it is intended or not… rumors have a way of starting. And then those rumors take on lives of their own.
We are seeing that each and every day in our current election shenanigans. (Segue: Shenanigans. That is a word for the ages. One of the best words ever… from the way it sounds to all of its little mischief.)
Back to rumors and misinformation. This has been going on for ages upon ages. Some things get a bad wrap. Most of the time, this is the result of someone yammering when they shouldn’t be yammering.
Take Samhain for example. Whew. Talk about a bunch of misconstrued information. Samhain has seen the worst of it. Now, if you aren’t sure what Samhain is… I’ll tell you a little story.
IT is the grandmummy of all Halloween origins. This goes WAY beyond Candy Corn and bobbing for apples. Historians trace Halloween’s roots back to this ancient Celtic festival. Samhain. It was celebrated around 2000 years ago. The whole dang deal started at sundown on October 31 and it ran straight through November 1. That’s a festival, I’ll tell you.
Back then… this was marked on the calendar as the place between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. So. Translated… the word means Summer’s End.
And if you pronounce it like your neighbor’s name… Sam Hane…. let’s try something else. It was really pronounced SAH-wen. Just so you don’t embarrass yourself at swanky dinner parties.
Most likely during the festival… those people of yore…. harvested crops and slaughtered animals… for a very big beasty feast. But it was much more than that. On a spiritual level…. Samhain marked the time of the year when the proverbial wall between the earthly world and the spirit world dissolved. Kaput.
This allowed all the spirits… and better yet… ALL the faeries to walk among the mortals. They may have even tormented those mere mortals. Boo.
It’s also described in countless myths and folktales as a period of mystical intensity. Celtic priests built huge bonfires. They held divination rituals…. AND…. they conducted rites to keep ghouls at bay.
Alas… there are no written records from that time… so much of this has been passed down through story telling. Like the game telephone. Sort of.
Eventually, it turned into a Christian Ritual.
By the 7th century, many Western European nations had converted to Christianity. They used to celebrate a day called Lemuria… which was another type of festival of the dead (All Saints Day). In the 8th century Good Pope Greg III… moved it to line up with Samhain.
So… the two holidays kind of got squished together.
Then… Mr. Get-It-Wrong came along… a guy named Charles Vallancey. He was a British military surveyor and amateur historian. He went to Ireland in 1762 while on a surveying mission. But he wrote a book and said the Festival of Samhain was demonic. He actually made up a guy… named Lord Samhain. An evil demonic barbaric type guy….. the kind you’d love to bring home to Mom & Dad. He said the Celts were bloodthirsty, and performed human sacrificial rituals. The rumor took hold for a long time.
To this day.. . the word Samhain has cameo appearances in spooky movies… like Halloween 2 and Halloween 3.
So… as you can see.. the roots of Halloween go transmuted from the “End of Summer Festival” to the Bloodthirsty Murderous Lord Samhain Ritual.
The literal roots, I suppose….. of Trick or Treat.