By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Holidays for February 21st, 2013

*    Feralia (Ancient Rome) this was the final and main festival of a nine day series of festivals in honor of their dead ancestors. During the days leading to Feralia temples were closed and no weddings could be performed. On the day of Feralia an arrangement of wreaths, a sprinkling of grain and a bit of salt, along with bread soaked in wine and violets were scattered on graves.

*    International Mother Language Day (UNESCO) day to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Photo by Chuck Rondeau

Halloween - What is the origin of this popular holiday?

Halloween’s origin dates back to ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (Sah-win) which was celebrated on the sunset of October 31. The Celts believed that on the night of October 31 ghost spirit would damage their crops. The Druids (Celtic priest) built large sacred bonfires for the people to sacrifice crops and animals to their Celtic gods. During this celebration the people would wear animal heads and skins to trick the ghost in thinking they were evil spirits in order to be spared from attacks.

Many of the features of Halloween stem from the added traditions to the Samhain celebration. For example, the Romans conquered the Celts, then adapted the Samhain celebration with their two festivals called Feralia and the other that honored Pomona (Goddess of fruit and tress, which symbol was an apple). It is believed that bobbing for apples probably came from that celebration to Pomona.

The bible says at Deuteronomy 18:10,11 that there should not be anyone among you that practice divination, sorcerer, or consults the ghost. So this widely popular holiday conflicts with bible teachings. It is important that Christians learn about the origins of this holiday and why they should stay way from it.

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