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Posts Tagged ‘Celts’

Halloween is a mixture of Celtic, Roman, and Catholic holidays and rituals. The new year for Celts began on November 1. They believed the dead returned to earth on October 31 and caused trouble. To observe the holiday, Samhain, priest lighted sacred bonfires and Celts wore costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.  

In 43 A.D. Romans conquered Celtic lands extending from Ireland to northern France. Romans joined their fall festival of Feralia—commemorating the dead and honoring the goddess, Pomona, whose symbol was the apple—with the Samhain celebration. This may account for the “bobbing of apples” at Halloween.  

Christianity spread in the Celtic lands in the late seventh century. The Pope designated November 1 as All Saints Day—from the word Alholowmesse—to honor saints and martyrs. The celebration of Samhain the day before became All-hallows Eve, and eventually, Halloween.

Europeans migrating to America brought traditions with them. Ghost stories and mischief replaced remembering the dead. Celebrations moved toward community gatherings and home parties. In the early twentieth century, the religious tone waned and the holiday became secular.  

Marketing of costumes, parties, and special treats created a retail business windfall. Americans spend nearly $10 billion annually on Halloween, making it the second largest commercial holiday.

Because of its history, many find the holiday the antithesis of Christianity.  Churches and others celebrate October 31 with fall harvests, festivals, and organized fun for children.

However you perceive this occasion and choose to celebrate, more nutritional fare can replace the American custom of handing candies to trick-or-treaters. Better choices include sugar-free chewing gum, individual servings of boxed raisins, or offers of fresh fruit and nuts.

If you prepare your own treats such as granola mix, popcorn, or other nutritious goodies, put each serving into sealable sandwich bags. While this holiday is fun, help make it healthier for those little door-knockers and tiny spooks on your door step.

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