Croeso i The Sprout! os gwelwch yn dda Cofrestru neu Mewngofnodi

Halloween: A History

Postiwyd gan MarshMallo o Caerdydd - Cyhoeddwyd ar 31/10/2012 am 13:01
0 sylwadau » - Tagiwyd fel Diwylliant, Gwyl, Hanes

  • Photo 1

This article is pending translation.

At Christmas, we’re always told that we have to remember Jesus and his birthday, although it’s widely known that this “Jesus’” birthday was probably sometime during the summer. Then, at Easter, we’re told to remember his death and how he came back to life while eating chocolate eggs, a symbol of life.

This time of year was called Samhain (pronounced Saw-win) by the Old Irish Celts. They would celebrate the end of the harvest and the beginning of the colder season. We now welcome the change and enter the Celtic New Year, November 1st, by dressing in costumes to scare away any demons that might appear in the New Year.

You’ve probably heard of All Hallows' Evening, which is the night before All Saints' that is, again, November first. Although a lot of people, including me, along with two-thirds of teenagers in the UK, are atheists we have so many Christian holidays. We have all these already, and we celebrate January 1st and the Chinese New Year, but we don’t celebrate the Celtic one. We call this Halloween, and although it we aren’t told to remember Jesus or anything – the name still comes from All Hallows' Evening, which is connected with All Saints' Day.

So we should welcome Samhain, Old Irish for ‘Summer’s End’. Samhain is an Old Irish Quarter day like Lunasa (August 1st), Imbolc (February 1st) and Beltaine (May 1st).

Here in Wales, our ancestors celebrated Calan Gaeaf on November 1st and Nos Galan Gaeaf on the day we now call Halloween. The other two Brythonic areas joined in the celebrations with Kalan Gwav (Cornwall) and Kalan Gwav (Brittany). Traditions include Coelcerth, an activity in which all participants would write their names on a stone and place it in a fire until morning. If a person’s stone was missing, they’d die within the year. Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta was a fearless spirit created to scare children into coming home early. The spirit would take the form of a black, tail-less sow and roam the countryside with a headless woman.

So why do (or did) we trick-or-treat? Why do people give costumed children sweets that threaten to trick them and ask for nothing in return? I do not know. Despite this, I do know of a tradition called Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare in English) that was an old Welsh way of carolling. The children would go from door to door and sing hymns for pocket money. With them they’d take a doll made of nothing but a horse skull attached to sticks wearing a white cloth and maybe some decorations like ribbons or feathers. This might have been to add a little scare factor, which is very Halloween.

Another similar holiday is the Mexican Day of the Dead, which occurs on November first in Mexico. A version of this holiday occurs in Brazil called Dia de Finados. Participants would pray and celebrate the lives of their deceased loved-ones, like an annual community funeral.

Halloween has evolved since then. Now we have pumpkins and garlic to keep away the vampires, we check the moon to see whether it’s full and whether a werewolf may come out and we protect ourselves for the upcoming zombie apocalypse. Remember – this is the last Halloween before 2012 – it could happen.

This is why I love Halloween. Despite its name, we still recognise Halloween as an Old Celtic Tradition that’s come a long way since Samhain, the old Calan Gaeaf and the January celebration of Mari Lwyd. I love the supernatural aspect and the whole holiday in general. That’s why Halloween is my favourite holiday.

It has character, it has history and many, many sweets.

News >> Categories >> History

Related Articles:

IMAGE: Mark J P

Rhywbeth i ddweud?

Rhaid bod wedi mewngofnodi i bostio sylwadau ar y wefan hon

Mewngofnodi neu Cofrestru.

Cymerwch ychydig o funudau i gwblhau'r arolwg hon. Bydd hyn yn helpu ni i ffeindio allan sut yr ydych chi'n defnyddio'r wefan fel ein bod ni'n gallu dal ati i'w gwella ar eich cyfer chi. Bydd pawb sy'n cwblhau'r arolwg yn cael y cyfle i ennill �50