Halloween’s Agricultural Roots
By Andrew Amelinckx on October 31, 2016. From Modern Farmer
You dress up in a scary costume each October 31, hand out candy to the ghosts and ghouls who come to your door, and have even bobbed for apples at a Halloween party. But did you know you were actually celebrating the importance of agriculture with those activities? That’s right, Halloween has farming roots.
It’s believed the Halloween’s origins lie in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which was celebrated from October 31 into November 1, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.
It was a time of the year for the Celtic peoples of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, northern France, and Brittany to bring their cattle from summer pasture—to slaughter livestock that was unlikely to make it through the long, cold winter and to hold celebratory feasts to consume the meat and other foods that easily spoiled in an age before refrigeration. It was also a time for fairs, regional markets, and assemblies—and the brewing of mead and beer following the harvesting of grains.
Our modern conception of Halloween is based on the Celtic belief that Samhain was a time when the boundaries between our world and the Otherworld, a place inhabited by the dead and supernatural creatures like fairies, monsters, demons, and the like, were lowered. The inhabitants of the Otherworld could make their way to our world and unsuspecting humans could find themselves in the Otherworld by accident or trickery. Villagers would dress in frightening outfits to try to fool these dark and dangerous creatures thought to be roaming around that night.
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