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Halloween-the Celebration of Death

Updated on November 2, 2016

Images of Samhain

The Bonfires of Samhain was a important part of all the ancient Celtic rituals.
The Bonfires of Samhain was a important part of all the ancient Celtic rituals. | Source
When the Romans came into power they burned down all of Druids sacred groves though out Britian
When the Romans came into power they burned down all of Druids sacred groves though out Britian
 We can not forget the Saints!
We can not forget the Saints!

Are you ready to take a little trip?

This is not only to several locations around the world and though time, but also a trip into other people’s minds and beliefs. This trip will not cost you one soldiery dime, or take any preparation whatsoever. All you have to do is read on.

Our first stop is Ireland let’s say about…two thousand years ago. Give or take a hundred years. It is the thirty first of October and we are winding through an oak grove on a very narrow and warn path. On our way, we have passed several small bonfires that people are dancing around on their way towards the middle of the grove. It is late at night; let us say about 10:30 PM. Up ahead we can make out a very bright light, partially hidden by the trees. It is a large bonfire, at least ten feet long and maybe, ten feet wide. It was also quite possible that there was towering object shaped like a man or some other kind of animal. This was known as "The Wicker Man" and was often used to cage animals and sometimes human sacrifices.

The bonfire or wicker man is inside an even larger clearing, right in the middle of a circle of stones. By each stone is a wooden poll topped with a special lantern. These lanterns are what were originally called samhng and are made from turnips and have horrific faces. These are the very earliest form of Jack –o’ Lanterns. They are meant to ward off evil spirits that are believed to roam freely on this most scared night. For this is Samhain, the night that the dead walk the earth!

Several activities will be performed on this night, since this is the last and greatest harvest festival. Roughly translated from the Old Irish or Gaelic, the word Samhain means “summer's end” and the word Mi na Samhna was Gaelic word for November. It will be the night of feasting and prophecy, with young women using scaring bowls to get glimpse of their future husbands alongside their own reflections.

So what was the mind set on these ancient pagans as they prepared to greet the winter and a new year? I am certain there was a touch of fear, since they had a strong belief that this night the veil that separated our world from the underworld (or spirit world) was at its thinnest. It was also a time of thankfulness for the harvest, and a time to remember those who passed on.

Then came the Romans

The Romans had their own festivals to honor the dead. This was Parentalia that began on February 13 and continued until February 22. This was not as joyful as Samhain was, for it was considered a time of mourning, even though there was feasting at the grave sites of the deceased relatives (the sites were known as manes). Faralia was the last night of the festival and the most sacred event. During this time, the entire temple was closed and no wedding or any other normal activities were permitted.

Then in the 7Th century Pope Boniface IV, started a celebration that was clearly meant to replace the pagan celebration, Samhain. This was All Saints Day, when all the Saints and Martyrs were remembered. Much later, the Catholic Church created All Souls day on November 2ed. Both All Saints day and All Souls Day was combined and called Hallow-mass which became known as Halloween.

Celabrating death, Mexican style

Our final destination is Mexico and the Festival that refused to die!

Just like Samhain, the Aztecs had a ritual that "laughed in the face of death." It involved the Goddess Mictecihuatl who was known as "the Lady of the Dead." It was originally in the month of August, however when the Spaniards took power they found they could not stop the natives from practicing this ancient ritual, so they changed it to November 2ed and combined it with All Saint day and All Souls Day. On this day there is much celebration and people decorated the graves of their relatives with brightly colored flowers and sugared skulls. This is known as "The Day of the Dead" or Dia de Los Muertos.

Personally, I have a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to celebrating death. For being a Christian, I like to stay focus on the promise of eternal life. Even so, honoring and remembering your love ones is a very positive act, I just do not think that dancing around a bonfire or eating sugar skulls is the best way for me to do it.

The Day of the Dead- a history lesson

Smile for the Camera!

Just a small exsample of the colorful decorations for The Day of The Dead!
Just a small exsample of the colorful decorations for The Day of The Dead!

Now it is your turn, do you think one of these festivals is something you would take part in?

Our these celabrations appropriate ways to honer the dead?

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    • Highvoltagewriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Benner 

      8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Well then Minnetonka, be sure you read "Valentines Day The Celebration of Love" that will be published soon!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      I really enjoyed the historical journey about Halloween practices and their meanings. Loved your great pictures too as it made it come to life.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Benner 

      8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Yes it is true that Halloween has a harmless side to it, and yet,becuse of my past involment in the occult, I get what I can olny describe as "flashbacks" concerning some of the dark activities that I use to be involved in at this time of the year.

      Thank you for the reminder about my grammer, it is something I need to watch like a hawk!

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      8 years ago

      You researched your material very well. It was an interesting hub and more people should now know how Halloween came about. I agree there is a dark side to Halloween, but there is a dark side to most things in life.

      I have always had fun with it with my children when they were toddlers. However now it's simply something for me to write about. Thank you for sharing your knowledge it was an admirable write.

      The only correction I would make in your writings would be some of your grammar and spell checking before you publish, otherwise everything else is excellent. Peace

    • Highvoltagewriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Benner 

      8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Thank you so much for I did spend a lot of time researching this hub, for I beleive very strongley in honering the dead!

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      You did quite a good research about All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day history and celebrations. For me, the occasion has become highly commercialized because of the Halloween Parties. I rather want to have a silent day visiting the graveyards and ending up praying in church. In fairness, your hub is interesting.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Benner 

      8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Hay epigramman! You survived the werewolf attact! I was just about to go hunt down that grasss cutting werewolf with my trusty Daisy but I could not find any silver BB's!

      I also would like to envite you to check out my "The Howling Heart" series that I wrote this time of year.

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      ....I thought when I saw the title - Celebration of Death - you might have been talking about my love life - lol lol - which is a horror story in itself and Halloween all year 'round - and believe me I make Jo Jo the dog faced boy look clean shaven!!!! lol lol

      .....but all kidding aside - I absolutely love the amount of energy and time that you put into this hub of yours - I think this might be the essential hub on Halloween because you look at it from a historical and cultural perspective. I love your images and how you put it all together - bravo this is a world class presentation!!!

    • Highvoltagewriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Benner 

      8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Nope I do not..not in the way that it is commonly celabrated. Being who I am I do feel that this time of year has a certain power to it...and some of this power leans towards the "dark side." I gusess I celabrate it by working on Horror stories, for I seem to write a lot of them this time of year. I just put a differant "spin" on the horror than I use to. These days I see the greatest horror is being seperated from God!

    • Annie Bows profile image

      Annie Bows 

      8 years ago from Everywhere USA

      Welp, I still don't know if you celebrate Halloween. Really it's none of my business. And this was interesting.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Benner 

      8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Helo Lynda, thanks for stoping by! I am glad to hear from you! I have not been around to much for I have beeen bussy writng my book...however I plan to be writing a lot more hubs soon!

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thanks, had a wonderful journey. Lynda


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