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The Origins of Halloween

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Author Topic: The Origins of Halloween  (Read 82 times)
Michelle Jahn
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« on: October 30, 2009, 01:23:30 pm »

What about "trick or treat"?

During the course of these hijinks, many of the people would imitate the fairies and go from house to house begging for treats. Failure to supply the treats would usually result in practical jokes being visited on the owner of the house. Since the fairies were abroad on this night, an offering of food or milk was frequently left for them on the steps of the house so the homeowner could gain the blessing of the "good folk" for the coming year. Many of the households would also leave out a "dumb supper" for the spirits of the departed.7 The folks who were abroad in the night imitating the fairies would sometimes carry turnips carved to represent faces. This is the origin of our modern Jack-o-lantern.

Was there any special significance of cats to the Celts?

According to Katherine Briggs in "Nine Lives: Cats in Folklore", the Celts associated cats with the Cailleach Bheur, or Blue Hag of Winter. "She was a nature goddess, who herded the deer as her cattle. The touch of her staff drove the leaves off the trees and brought snow and harsh weather."8 Dr. Anne Ross addresses the use of divine animals in her book "Pagan Celtic Britain" and has this to say about cats: "Cats do not play a large role in Celtic mythology ... the evidence for the cat as an important cult animal in Celtic mythology is slight".9 She cites as supporting evidence the lack of archaeological artifacts and literary references in surviving works of mythology.

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