Was St. Patrick's English Scottish or Welsh
Ireland's Myths, Customs & Legends
Halloween should meanwhile be known to everyone in Europe as well. Why we celebrate it or where it originated, however, only a few know.
The origin can be found in Ireland, where the festival "Samhain" was celebrated in pagan times, a festival for the souls of the deceased and at the same time the beginning of the cold winter time, when the cattle were traditionally driven from the pastures into the stables. The word "Samhain" means "end of summer". It was at this time that the cycle of life was worshiped in Ireland. The change of the seasons and the effects in nature was a reason to celebrate a festival. Samhain was one of the most important festivals of the year for the Celts, but for us it can be compared to New Year's Eve. On this night, the gloomy winter half-year begins for people, during which Mother Earth rests, and then starts with new strength in spring.
In the night from October 31st to November 1st, the gate to a parallel world in Celtic mythology, which was called Sid or Elven Hill, opened. People feared that beings from this otherworld could harm them that night. Many did not go out of the house. Others dressed up in animal skins and wild costumes to frighten evil spirits. So they could not recognize deceased relatives and take revenge on them. Sacrifices were made to the underworld. The summer was passed with a fire into which animal bones were thrown.
When the Catholic Church saw its attempts at proselytizing in Ireland failed, Pope Gregory IV decided around 840 that a common festival would facilitate the approach to religion and unceremoniously postponed the Catholic festival of All Saints from May 13th to November 1st. The festivities were closely related in time and merged with All Souls' Day (November 2nd) to form "All Hallow's Eve", the evening of the dead. Originally it was only celebrated in the Catholic parts of the British Isles, as there were other holidays in the neighboring Protestant parts.
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