Table of Contents

Sabella's: The History of Halloween


This lecture was held October 29th in the graveyard, Death watching over all.

'I know more about Halloween than anyone, having been through eleven sequels for so,' Sabella says.

Kahlan giggles.

'Ok, ok, calm down so we can get done with the lecture and you can play :),' Sabella says.

'Halloween!' Sabella says.

'The name evokes thoughts of ghosts and graves, witches and werewolves, bats and black cats, cauldrons and candy, all in a carnival atmosphere of giggles and chills that is not so much scary as it is liberating,' Sabella says.

'But how many know the true origins of Halloween and its various attendant rites, customs and symbols,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'Halloween is the most important of the two oldest holidays of the Indo-European peoples, pre-dating the rise of agriculture as a significant factor in their culture.'

'Halloween is the most important of the two oldest holidays of the Indo-European peoples, pre-dating the rise of agriculture as a significant factor in their culture,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'It is the oldest holiday still actively celebrated in Europe and perhaps in the world dating conservatively from the arrival of the Celts in Europe at 600 BC.'

'More than likely, since most scholars now agree that the cultures preceeding the La Tene culture were also Indo-European,' Sabella says.

'And that the introduction of the Celtic culture was probably by trade and gradual migration rather than violent invasion, dating from as early as 2500 BC,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'Throughout Europe, and secondarily the Americas, Halloween or one of its many variants is celebrated on or near November first.'

Sabella says, 'It invariably concerns either a relationship with the dead, begging, revenge, or augury and frequently all of them.'

'Most of our informtion about the original celebration comes from studying the Irish Celtic holiday Samhain (sowen),' Sabella says.

'Not surprisingly because the pagan Celtic religion survived longer in Ireland, but in fact because the Irish were one of the earliest cultures in Europe to convert to Christianity,' Sabella says.

'The pagan Celtic/Teutonic/Indo-European religion in fact survived much longer in many parts of Europe lasting nearly until the 13th century in certain of the Baltic states,' Sabella says.

'In Ireland however the early formation of the Irish Catolic Church which at its inception and to some extent even today was independant of Roman Catholicism,' Sabella says.

'...with its strongly Celtic flavor and its nationalistic pride protected and even cultivated an interest in the unique qualities of their pagan culture,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'While there is still a significant distortion from Christianity,.'

'The enthusiasm of the Irish church in preserving the cultural literature and the leniancy with which it treated the celebration of festivals is a major reason there is anything to study at all,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'A further problem which forces our reliance on Samhain is the fact that the Greek and Roman, which we normally rely so heavily on for ancient customs, is almost wholly unhelpful.'

'The much longer association with agriculture as well as the mild mediterranean climate has nearly eliminated the significance of the two early festivals, the beginning of summer, and the beginning of winter,' Sabella says.

'In addition, the various modifications to the calendar and the accrual of rites formerly associated with these two holidays to others has further confused the issue,' Sabella says.

'So, let us turn our attention to Samhain as the best example of the celebration,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'There are eight major festivals in the Celtic year: Samhain (the beginning of winter and New Year's day.'

'The equinoxes and solstices are comparatively late additions, concerned as they are primarily with agriculture and positioning of the sun, rather than the change in seasons,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'Oimele and Lughnasadh are more minor holidays that do not invoke great change or happenings, but more a continuation of the status quo.'

'Thus, the two most important are Beltane or Mayday, the beginning of summer, the celebration of life and birth and the return of the herds to the fields,,' Sabella says.

'...and Samhain, the Celtic New Year, the beginning of winter and the return to winter quarters for people and animals and the celebration of the dead,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'The most important aspect of Samhain, and the one which has the most relevance to modern celebrations of Halloween is its association with the dead.'

'In Indo-European culture, the dead were not thought of as we tend to view them, but rather as having lives much the same as before only in other worlds,' Sabella says.

'Thus, Indo-European's did not so much worship the dead, although it is sometimes difficult to seperate minor and major deities from ancestors and spirits, as to honor, and to some extent propitiate them,' Sabella says.

'Also, the difference between dead and alive was not so much one of existence but merely of location,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, '... and therefore many of the practices, especially those dealing with procreation and death, are common to both major festivals.'

'During the times of the two major festivals, Samhain and Beltane, the veil between the worlds was thinned and people on both sides could pass between,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, 'It is this belief that is still prevalent in our Halloween traditions of ghosts and monsters as well as the wearing of masks and costumes and the obviously sexual implications of many of the games at halloween parties.'

'Bobbing for apples, for example, was originally a type of augury specifically for one's mate (the apple by the way, has strong implications in both death and life,' Sabella says.

Sabella says, '... being the conferer of immortality and coming from the other side of the veil.'

Sabella says, 'And trick or treat, a representation of the Strawboys of Ireland, who visited the homes of unmarried girls in mask and costume.'

Sabella says, ' steal a kiss or subject the household to pranks if it was deemed the father was withholding the girls from dating.'

'The night before the Day of the Dead, the first day of the old winter, was filled with thoughts of life,' Sabella says. 'Death mocks life, but sexuality is rage against death.'

'There is, in our tradition, an eerie harmony between the meolodies of death and love,' Sabella says. 'Iconographically, Death and Cupid are angels.'

'On Hallow Eve, girls engaged in light-hearted divination,' Sabella says. 'Fruit cakes, called 'bracks,' are still made for Halloween with a ring baked into them.'

Sabella says, 'The girl whose slice includes the ring can expect to be married within the year.'

'On Hallow Eve, young unmarried men slipped up black lanes and rushed along hedges dressed as 'strawboys.',' Sabella says.

'They wore regular hats, weirdly trimmed with ribbons and feathers,' Sabella says. 'Their faces were blackened or hidden by homemade masks, and over their clothes rustled 'mantles' of straw that hung plaited from a ring around their necks.'

'The Strawboys, like mummers, were led by a Captain whose whispers controlled their movements,' Sabella says.

'As they traveled, the strawboys vented pent energies in pranks like removing cart wheels and lifting off gates and hiding them,' Sabella says.

'Their objectives were the homes of unmarried girls. Into the kitchen they crashed:' Sabella says.

Sabella says, '... one man blew a flute or mouth organ, some danced with the girls of the house, the rest cavorted outside the norms of etiquette, demolishing the faily's peace and stealing all the food in sight.'

'Er, family's,' Sabella says.

'These strawboys who traveled in large groups were tolerated,' Sabella says. 'Barely tolerated.'

'Smaller groups of strawboys would also cross the hills in silence on Hallow Eve,' Sabella says. 'These were led by a Captain who burned with a personal 'spite' against someone.'

'The would dress and strike quickly,' Sabella says. 'They might tie the frond door shut and stuff the chimney, filling the house with smoke and deep-staining soot, or they might 'sod and stone' the doors and windows, likely smashing the latter.'

Sabella says, 'Usually such spite was held against people who kept their eligible daughters out of circulation.'

'Bachelors in dresses of straw, who travel Hallow Eve with the souls of the dead, who come out of winter's black nights, promising fertility, return us symbolically, concretely to the theme of life,' Sabella says.

'The 'Wren Boys,' also an example of this tradition, have become associated with Christmas due to the Latinization of New Year's Day,' Sabella says. 'Many practices associated with Halloween have migrated to Christmas and New Year's Day.'

'Bonfires are another common practice on Halloween, used as both a source of augury and as a community gathering point,' Sabella says. 'Gatherings at bonfires also often had a fertility theme.'

Sabella says, 'It is safe to say our celebration of Halloween derives directly from a holiday in existence for close to 4000 years or more.'

Sabella says, 'Our trick-or-treaters may be somewhat tamer than the Straw Boys, nonetheless, their derivation from their elder brothers is clear.'

'That's all,' Sabella says.

Northstar claps for Sabella approvingly.

Preserve applauds Sabella's quick thinking and good judgment.

Densiva claps for Sabella approvingly.