Halloween will be extra spooky this year

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Jess Oakley, Reporter

If you didn’t know, because you are living under a rock or otherwise, this year’s Halloween falls on a full moon. Not only that, but it is also a blue moon, which is when the full moon happens twice in one calendar month. Halloween’s origins are tied to the ancient Celtic tradition of Samhain, which was on the first of November and marked the new year. The first of November marked the beginning of winter and the end of summer. They didn’t have the concept of spring or fall like we do now. Winter was closely related to darkness and death, as crops, animals and people tended to succumb to the darkness during the hard winters in Northern Europe. The Celts believed that the day before the new year was when the boundaries between the physical and spirit worlds would be at their weakest during the whole year. They celebrated this night because it was when the Druids or Celtic priests had the most foresight into the future. For people so dependent on the harvest and the natural world, these predictions could bring great comfort during the long, cold winters. During the night of Oct. 31, the Celts would build huge sacred bonfires, and they would burn sacrifices of crops and animals to the Celtic deities. They would wear costumes consisting of animal heads and skins and would attempt to tell each other of their fortunes in the coming year. 

After the Romans came to the regions of France, Ireland and England, they had the habit of Romanizing the holidays of the indigenous people to both make it more palatable for the Romans as well as in an effort to disconnect the indigenous people from their holy days. The Romans merged Samhain with two holidays from their own belief systems: Feralia, which was a day that celebrated the passing of the dead and Pomona, a day to honor the Roman goddess of trees and fruits. The symbol of Pomona is an apple, and that may explain the tradition of bobbing for apples that can be seen today on Halloween. 

After the fall of Rome, as well as the rise of the Pope, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the pantheon in Rome to honor all Christian martyrs and saints. The Catholic feast day of All Saint’s Day was established on that day, May 13, 609 C.E. It was then expanded to honor all martyrs as well as all saints by Pope Gregory III, and moved from May 13 to Nov. 1. By the ninth century, Christianity was spread far beyond the scope of just Rome. It was spread to the Celtic lands and Nov. 2 was deemed All Soul’s Day, to honor all the dead. It is widely believed that the church was attempting to replace Samhain with a church sanctioned holiday that they could control. 

What does the full moon have to do with Halloween? Full moons are associated with werewolves, witches and other such ghouls. In popular culture, the full moon is seen as something spooky and foreboding. Many spooky movies feature the glow of a full moon on Halloween. “Once in a blue moon” is a phase that is associated with something that doesn’t happen often, and it is true. The blue moon on Halloween will be the first since 2001. The next full moon on Halloween won’t happen again until 2039. Enjoy this super spooky occasion while it lasts.

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