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What’s Your Favorite Part of Halloween?

shutterstock_70173520Living in Southern California my entire life, I can say I’ve never experienced a true Fall Halloween. Most of my Halloween memories come on hot nights staying out late trick or treating. We would usually go with a few kids from the street and all make our way around the entire neighborhood, covering parts that we had never been to before and haven’t been since. Halloween night was that one magical time when you could be guided by your parents to the farthest reaches of the neighborhood. What lies around the next corner? How many porch lights are on on this street? The excitement that comes with roaming round your neighborhood, knocking on doors and getting free candy is a rush that is unmatched with anything else in life. It is the greatest sense of adventure any kid can have.

Now that I can no longer trick or treat myself, decorating is my favorite part of Halloween. I enjoy making a home as frighteningly fun as possible. It’s always great to add to a kids’ Halloween night adventure by providing a memorable, spooky setting in which to trick or treat.

As I said earlier, living in Southern California my entire life, I’ve always longed for the picturesque Halloween atmosphere: Brown trees, falling leaves, Halloween carnivals and pumpkin patches. This is why another one of my favorite parts of Halloween is watching as many Halloween related movies and TV shows as possible. There’s something special about Halloween episodes of TV shows or movies taking place on a chilly Halloween night. I find the atmosphere enthralling and inspiring, which is why I primarily like to write Halloween stories. I get to live in Halloween land all year long!

Now I ask you, fellow Halloween fan. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Trick or Treat: The History of Halloween!

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

Interested in going deeper and learning more about Halloween? I strongly recommend this Book: Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton
http://www.amazon.com/Trick-Treat-A-History-Halloween/dp/1780230478