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Halloween’s Ancient Traditions

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Millions of dollars will be spent on Halloween this year. Its a big deal in this country, but the tradition began a long time ago and on a continent far away.

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“Halloween itself is a Christian church holiday that was dated to coincide with an old Celtic holiday known as Samhain which is the combination harvest and New Year’s celebration.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Historical Expert, Anne Effland,  says Halloween has strong agricultural connections. It was the end of the growing season and a time when animals were killed before winter, which, Effland suggests, might explain the connection to sacrificial practices and religious rites. The observance was also considered a time when the earthly and spiritual worlds were at their closest.

Then add to the mix, that over the centuries Christian leaders aligned their holidays with pagan observations in an effort to convert.

“And in 835 Pope Gregory moved All Saints Day, which had been a Spring time celebration, to October 31st to coincide with the tradition of Samhain. So some of the negative side of Halloween, the association with the devil, evil spirits, black cats, goblins,  was, in part, an effort by church leaders to brand the pagan aspects of  All Saints Day as evil.”

The intention had been to discourage people from continuing those traditions, but instead it reinforced them. The darkside of October 31st seems to be the part  people enjoy the most.

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