Supplies Suggestion: Get a pumpkin and carving tools to make your own Jack-o-lantern.
HALLOWEEN, we all know it – October 31st. We dress up, go trick-or-treating, attend parties, and hand out candy. But where did this holiday come from, and how did these traditions start? Believe it or not, it originated with the CELTS (a collection of tribes with origins in central Europe that shared a similar language, religious beliefs, traditions, and culture). Specifically to the Festival of SAMHAIN (a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”).
Spell: HOLIDAY TRADITIONS BELIEFS
What holiday are we talking about? HALLOWEEN
What date is Halloween celebrated? OCTOBER 31
What is one of the things we do on Halloween? DRESS UP, GO TRICK OR TREATING, ATTEND PARTIES, HAND OUT CANDY
Who did Halloween originate with? CELTS
What Celtic festival did Halloween derive from? FESTIVAL OF SAMHAIN
What is your favorite Halloween tradition, if any?
You see, they celebrated their New Year on November 1st – marking the end of summer and the beginning of a FRIGID (cold), dark winter. This was a time of year that was FREQUENTLY associated with death. The belief was that on their New Year’s Eve, the BARRIERS (boundaries, lines) blurred between the worlds of the living and the dead. When the Celts CELEBRATED Samhain on October 31, they believed that ghosts of the dead would return to the world of the living.
Spell: WINTER SUMMER CELEBRATED
When did they celebrate their New Year? NOVEMBER 1
What word means cold? FRIGID
What was this time of year frequently associated with? DEATH
Name one of the synonyms for barriers. BOUNDARIES, LINES
What were the boundaries blurred between? THE WORLDS OF THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
When do we celebrate New Year’s Eve now? DECEMBER 31
What is another word for ghost? (Ex: SOULS, SPIRITS, etc.)
What other holiday revolves around ghosts or ancestors returning to the land of the living? DAY OF THE DEAD, DIAS LOS MUERTOS
VAKT: Do your best ghost impression.
Since the Celts were of the belief that the boundaries between worlds was BREACHABLE (vulnerable) during Samhain, they arranged offerings that were left on the outskirts of their villages for fairies, or SIDHS. Out of fear of KIDNAPPING by their ancestors and fairies, they would dress up as monsters and animals to DISGUISE themselves.
Spell: BOUNDARIES ARRANGED VILLAGES
What word means vulnerable? BREACHABLE
What did they arrange for the fairies? OFFERINGS
What is another name for fairies? SIDHS
Who did they fear would kidnap them? ANCESTORS, FAIRIES
What is one of the things they would dress up as? MONSTERS, ANIMALS
They did this to ___ themselves. DISGUISE
What does it mean to disguise yourself?
What is something that you would want to dress up as and why?
There were various monsters accompanying the MYTHOLOGY (a collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition) of Samhain. PUKAH was a shape-shifter that received harvest offerings and was even associated with kidnapping wandering children. There was also a headless woman dressed in white known as LADY GWYN, who, by the way, was accompanied by a black pig that chased any night WANDERERS. Have you heard of the headless horsemen? That legend stems from the DULLAHAN. They sometimes appeared as IMPISH (mischievous, devilish) creatures but other times as headless men, carrying their own heads in their hands, riding flame-eyed horses. They were believed to be a death OMEN (a sign of something about to happen) to anyone that they crossed paths with.
Spell: PATHS CREATURES HARVEST
What is a collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition, called? MYTHOLOGY
What is the shape shifter called? PUKAH
Tell me one descriptor of Lady Gwyn. HEADLESS, WOMAN, DRESSED IN WHITE, ACCOMPANIED BY A BLACK PIG, CHASED NIGHT WANDERERS
What does the legend of the headless horsemen stem from? DULLAHAN
Name a synonym for impish. MISCHIEVOUS, DEVILISH
The headless men rode ___ horses. FLAME-EYED
What is a sign of something about to happen? OMEN
Name another creature from mythology.
VAKT: Look up the history of the mythological creature you named.
What might you feel if you crossed paths with one of these creatures?
Originally, Samhain was celebrated with fire festivals that involved a large community BONFIRE in which members of the community would take some of the flame back to their homes to relight their HEARTHS (fireplaces). As the Middle Ages progressed, so did the fire festival celebrations. Instead of a large communal bonfire, SAMGHNAGANS became tradition. These, more personal Samhain fires, were closer to the farms in order to protect families from witches and fairies. During this time JACK-O-LANTERNS made their first appearances. They were carved TURNIPS that were attached to sticks on a string and EMBEDDED (implanted, inserted) with coal.
Spell: STRING FLAME FARMS
How was Simhain celebrated? WITH FIRE FESTIVALS THAT INVOLVED A LARGE COMMUNITY BONFIRE IN WHICH MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY WOULD TAKE SOME OF THE FLAME BACK TO THEIR HOMES TO RELIGHT THEIR HEARTHS
What word means fireplaces? HEARTHS
Instead of a large communal bonfire, what became tradition? SAMGHNAGANS
What did the Samghagans protect families from? WITCHES, FAIRIES
What made their first appearance during this time? JACK O LANTERNS
What were the Jack-o-lanterns carved out of? TURNIPS
Name a synonym for embedded. IMPLANTED, INSERTED
What do we make Jack-o-lanterns out of now? PUMPKINS
If you could design a Jack-o-lantern, what would it look like?
Christianity began to spread to Celtic lands by the 9th century. POPE GREGORY declared November 1st to be All Saints’ Day, honoring the saints, and November 2nd to be All Souls’ Day, honoring the dead. All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain – big bonfires and dressing up, though these costumes involved saints, angels, and devils. All Saints’ Day also became known as ALL-HALLOWS or ALL-HALLOWMAS (from Middle English Alholowmesse, meaning All Saints’ Day). The night before then became known as All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
Spell: HONORING SAINTS BONFIRES
What began to spread to Celtic lands by the 9th century? CHRISTIANITY
Who declared November 1st to be All Saints’ Day? POPE GREGORY
What day honored the dead? ALL SOULS DAY
What day was All Souls’ Day? NOVEMBER 2
What did All Souls’ Day costumes involve? SAINTS, ANGELS, DEVILS
What is one of the names that All Saints’ Day also became known as? ALL-HALLOWS, ALL-HALLOWMAS
Even upon MORPHING (altering, transforming) into what we know as Halloween, many of those original PAGAN (holding or constituting religious beliefs other than those of the main or recognized religions) practices and celebrations remained the same. TRICK-OR-TREATING originated from ancient Irish and Scottish traditions in the nights leading up to Samhain. In Ireland, MUMMING was the practice of putting on costumes, going from house to house, and singing songs to the dead. At the time, cakes were given as payment. Halloween pranking is even said to have been derived from a tradition in Samhain. However, back then, the pranks were typically blamed on fairies instead of the local teens from down the street.
Spell: LOCAL PRANKS IRISH
Name a synonym for morphing? ALTERING, TRANSFORMING
What word means holding or constituting religious beliefs other than those of the main or recognized religions? PAGAN
What originated from ancient Irish and Scottish traditions in the nights leading up to Samhain? TRICK OR TREATING
Describe mumming. THE PRACTICE OF PUTTING ON COSTUMES, GOING FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE, AND SINGING SONGS TO THE DEAD
What was given as payment? CAKES
Tell me a Halloween prank that you have heard of.
What would be your favorite things to get if you were trick-or-treating?
So many current traditions have EVOLVED (developed, progressed) from cultures of old. There is so much to learn about why we celebrate holidays the way we do in the present day.
Spell: PRESENT CELEBRATE CURRENT
Name a synonym for evolved. DEVELOPED, PROGRESSED
What holiday would you like to learn the history of next and why?
Describe in detail how you would design your own Jack-o-lantern or painted pumpkin for Halloween.
VAKT: Carve or your own pumpkin to make a Jack-o-lantern
If you could pull the ultimate Halloween prank, write a detailed plan for it. What would you do? How would you get your supplies? Who would you do it to? When would you do it?
Katlyn Billue is an S2C Practitioner, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, and Mentor for I-ASC. She loves educating about all things S2C – why we do what we do, how we do it, and the benefits of staying within the scope of S2C.