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Origins of Modern Halloween - What Are the Historical Roots of Our Halloween Celebrations?

Halloween has been celebrated in one form or another for over 2000 years, but how has it evolved over time to become the holiday we know today.
What are the Origins Of Modern Halloween? It is certainly true that the festival of 2000 years ago bears little resemblance to the one we know today, but even in it's oldest form it still contains elements we will recognize.
Ancient Times The original source of what has evolved into our modern Halloween holiday can be traced back over 2000 years to the Celts that lived in and around Ireland and England.
They celebrated their new year on November 1st as they regarded this to be the end of summer and the beginning of the cold dark winter period, a time that to the Celtic people was strongly associated with death.
They believed that the night before the new year the boundaries between the living and the dead realm was at its weakest, and the spirits of the dead could roam the land of the living.
On this night they held the pagan celebration Samhain pronounced sow-in, it literally means summers end.
During this celebration they would gather together in fields and build large fires called bon fires that were supposed to ward away the spirits of the dead.
They would also dress up in animal skins and wear animal masks and tell each others fortunes.
At the end of the night each would take embers from the fire to light their homes fire grate, they believed that a fire lit from the Samhain bon fire would keep them safe from death throughout the winter period.
Roman Occupation When the Romans came to Britain in 40AD they occupied the Celtic lands, and over the next 400 years of their rule the Roman festivals of Feralia, when Romans celebrated the passing of the dead, and Pomona a celebration for the goddess of the same name, grew to replace Samhain.
The goddess Pomona is the roman goddess of fruit and trees often associated with apples, the incorporation of this into Samhain is thought to be why the tradition of bobbing for apples has become associated with the Halloween celebration.
Christian Influences By the 7th century Christianity had spread to the Celtic lands and it was during this time that Pope Boniface IV founded all saints day, to be held on the 1st day of November.
It was a day that celebrated all the saints that didn't already have a day associated with them.
The choice of day was no accident and is widely believed to be an attempt by the church to replace the pagan holiday with a christian one, much as they did with Easter (pagan festival of Ostara/Eostre), and Christmas (pagan festival of Yule).
In the language of the time all saints day was called Alholowmesse, this evolved over time into all - hallowmas and then finally all hallows.
The evening before this celebration was called all hallows eve which became Halloween.
Conclusion Each period in history has added their own contribution to the evolution of our modern celebration, all leading to the fun lighthearted day that we enjoy today.
I hope this short history of the Evolution of our Halloween holiday will help you to understand the traditions and Origins Of Modern Halloween, and will add to your enjoyment of this unique celebration.

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