[Christine O’Keeffe’s Halloween History]
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Halloween originated from a race of people called the Celts (pron. KEHLTS) who lived in Europe from North of the Alps to the Baltic Sea from 1000BC to 450AD. The Celts of Ireland known as the Gaels (GAY-ls) celebrated a festival in November called Samhain or Samfuinn (pron. SEW-n or SHAH-vin ) meaning end of summer. (1, 2, 4) It was a celebration of the New Year and commenced with a week long festival called a feis (pron. fesh). Local priests called Druids divined events for the coming year. There were also games of skill and much feasting. At the close of the harvest hearth fires were extinguished and relit from a central hilltop bonfire by the Druids. (2, 4)
 The Romans conquered the Celts and Christian scribes wrote down their folklore. (1) These stories contained supernatural creatures. The human and spirit worlds were said to merge on Samhain. People disguised themselves as ghosts and goblins to protect themselves from evil. Food was an offering of respect for the dead who were thought to return home. These traditions continue today. (3) All Saint’s Day a.k.a All Hallows Day and All Soul’s Day (November 1st and November 2nd respectively) were Christian holidays established to replace Samhain. Celebration of the two holidays begins on the evening of October 31st called All Hallows Eve(n)or Hallow E’en. (2)

Phrase: Halloween Night happens next Thursday

Irish: Titeann Oíche Shamhna Déardaoin see chugainn
Pronunciation: Thith-inn Ee-heh how -na djayr-dheen shuh hug-inn.
bliáin is lá: a year and a day, a full 364-day solar cycle, Samhain, not part of the year proper, being the extra day.
  1. Timothy Roberts, The Celts In Myth &Legend, pgs. 18-21, New York, NY: Friedman Fairfax Publishing © 1995 ISBN: 1567990924
  2. Eric Kimmel, The Story of Halloween, pg. 17-20, Cricket Magazine, Oct. 1980.
  3. DJ Hogan Halloween’s Irish Connections on Usenet soc.cult.celtic, 1996
  4. Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, pg 360-4, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997
  5. Aideen’s Connemara Dialect, Foclóir Gaelach Irish Dictionary, Irish Culture and Customs, November 5, 2002

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© 1997. Christine O’Keeffe, Ver. 2.0. Wednesday, October 30, 2002