29 October 2016

Halloween, myths and legends of an ancient celebration


Perhaps at no other time during the year are so many traditions, annual occasions and symbolisms united as on the night of Halloween.


The name itself of this dark celebration seems to derive from a formula in ancient Scottish that meant the “Eve of All Saints’ Day”. That is quite meaningful, as it evokes the attempt of Pope Gregory IV to superimpose a Catholic festivity (All Saints’ Day) over the numerous pagan celebrations that fell between October and November.


Before it became a clear sign of US consumerism and the famous custom of asking “trick or treat”, for scary fancy dress costumes and smiling pumpkins (inspired by the Irish legend of Jack-o’-lantern), the 31st October was the day on which the Roman goddess Pomona, but also the feast of the dead, or “Parentelia”, was celebrated.


The origins of Halloween, however, are also linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which was held to celebrate the end of summer and which – according to certain sources – was the privileged moment in which people could witness paranormal phenomena.


It is rather odd that at the end of summer – according to Greek mythology – the gates of hell opened to welcome Persephone, the wife of Hades, the god of the underworld, who spent the hot seasons on earth with his mother Demeter, and the cold seasons in the underworld.