During the month of October it's not unusual to see homes with skeletons, ghosts, and much more displayed! Haunted houses become fashionable to attend, real or make believe. Carved pumpkins and witches on brooms with their black cats curled up at their feet. Why is it that during this month we start to think of such things, why is death such a part of our lives in the month of October? Here is a brief break down of the holiday of Samhain.
Samhain has roots that go back thousands of years, and is the one pagan holiday the Christian church has not been able to steal! Though they have tried! For pagan's this is the new year. Samhain (SAW-in) a time of year when pagans gather to celebrate their last harvest and to remember their ancestors who have passed. Sometime around the 8th century the Catholic church decided that November first was to become All Saints' Day. All Saints Day became a day to celebrate the saints who didn't already have their own holy day. The mass that was given on that day was called All Hallows Mass. Naturally the day before became known as All Hallows Eve, and later by the wonders of slang, Halloween!
For the Celts, sun set on October 31 is the beginning of the new year. It is a symbol of the God's death and the Crone Goddess begins mourning. During this passing the veil between worlds is thin and it is the best time of year to honor any loved ones you have lost and to celebrate them. It is also a night when other spirits can walk the lands! Hence the ghosts, skeletons and other symbols of death. On All Saints Day the church often celebrated by visiting the tombs where the saints were buried and leaving them offerings and gifts. They would also celebrate by offering hosts at with a skull stamped on it as well as giving the children skulls made from sugar or chocolate.
As the Celts joined to celebrate the last harvest they also joined to celebrate their ancestors by leaving offerings at grave sites and by displaying elaborately decorated altars in honor of those ancestors. As Hollywood took hold of the holiday it became mainstream to decorate your homes with images of ghosts, skeletons, demons, monsters, graveyards, and of course the classic Hollywood witch and anything that has become associated with her, including pointy hats, brooms, cauldrons, and black cats!