Halloween as we know it has its origins in both Celtic mythology and in the Ancient Roman festival of Feralia, which honoured the dead and took place at the end of October.
As the Romans conquered Celtic lands, beliefs began to merge – on 31 October, Celts celebrated Samhain, a festival of the New Year and the deceased, so it is easy to see how mythologies were absorbed as the Ancient Roman empire spread.
In 835AD, the Christian festival All Saints Day was also moved from May to November 1 by Pope Gregory IV, supplanting the pagan Samhain festival. All Saints was called All Hallows Eve in Old English – eventually shortened to Halloween.
Until quite recently, Halloween was not marked as much in the UK as it is these days – and was to an extent considered to be more of an American holiday. Marketing soon changed that and Halloween in Britain has now become as popular as Easter or Christmas – and sometimes just as expensive!
The traditional Halloween custom of apple bobbing – with apples in water in a rain barrel having to be eaten without using hands – is thought to have originated from the Roman festival of the goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona, which was marked near the time of Feralia.
The custom of wearing the ghoulish costumes people now wear at Halloween relates to the festival of the dead, of course. But perhaps there could be no finer way of marking the festival than dressing up as an ancient Celt or Roman, both scary in their own ways. And thankfully, definitely now dead. Happy Halloween!
No one to haunt at Halloween? Fear not – download ROME ALONE and ROME AGAIN FREE at Amazon Kindle on 31 October and curl up by the fireside with your black cat.
Set off to the Eternal City for a weekend of surprises, as unhappy housewife Bee and newly-divorced Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy leave from opposite ends of the country for a mini-break full of the unexpected that will change their lives forever. Return to Rome with them three years later and discover the forces at work which they never suspected on their first trip.
ROME ALONE was short-listed for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’s New Novel Centenary Award.
Both books contain sexual content, adult themes and dark humour which some might find upsetting. Also scenes of shopping, gelati, vino rosso, amore and Rome.
Download ROME ALONE
Download ROME AGAIN
All images copyright Angela Meredith 2017