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The Origins of the Halloween

Have you ever heard how your favorite mystical celebration Halloween appeared? Halloween had many appearances: pagan, Christian and modern appearances. Let’s take a look at the history of Halloween.

It is rooted in a pagan Celtic holiday called Samhain festival. Most of the rituals are taken from this holiday. A kindred festival was held at the same time of year by the Brittonic Celts, called Calan Gaeaf in Wales, Kalan Gwav in Cornwall and Kalan Goañv in Brittany; a name meaning "first day of winter". Samhain and Calan Gaeaf are mentioned in some of the earliest Irish and Welsh literature.

From at least the 18th century, "imitating malignant spirits" led to playing pranks in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. Wearing costumes and playing pranks at Halloween spread to England in the 20th century. Traditionally, pranksters used hollowed out turnips or mangel wurzels often carved with grotesque faces as lanterns. By those who made them, the lanterns were variously said to represent the spirits, or were used to ward off evil spirits. They were common in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands in the 19th century, as well as in Somerset (see Punkie Night). In the 20th century, they spread to other parts of England and became generally known as jack-o'-lanterns.

In the 8th century Pope Gregory 3 wanted to convert Gaul pagans to Christianity. So, he proclaimed festival religious ads and created All Hallows Day that mixed Germanic, Celtic and Christian traditions.

By the end of the 12th century, they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing church bells for the souls in purgatory. In medieval times the Jack’ o Lantern was suggested as a symbol. Many Christians in mainland Europe, especially in France, believed "that once a year, on Hallowe'en, the dead of the churchyards rose for one wild, hideous carnival" known as the danse macabre, which has often been depicted in church decoration.

In the 15th century Great Britain Halloween was avoided by puritans, so this celebration’s popularity started to grow in North American Colonies. It became popular and was celebrated even during the Independence War. In the 19th century, it become a more secular celebration. Halloween also started to be influenced by gothic literature (Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelly, Goethe, Bram Stocker) mixing with Christian- pagan traditions. In 1974 puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee of Greenwich Village began the yearly New York Halloween Parade, the world's largest Halloween parade.

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