1. It all started in Ireland. Halloween originates from the ancient Druid feast day of Samhain, which marks the New Year, on Nov. 1. Bonfires were set to guard against the dead, who it was believed would return on this night to wreak havoc, particularly with the crops.
2. It’s got a Catholic Twist. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory decided to make All Saints Day an official church holiday on November 1, thus making “All Hallows Eve” the day we know now as Halloween. The church was well known for co-opting pagan holidays, but despite it’s best efforts, many of the practices of Samhain persisted.
3. People originally wore masks to protect themselves from spirits. It was a long held belief that souls would return on this night, and in medieval times, people were terrified of the dark! They believed that if they left the house after dark, they might actually get turned into a ghost, so they donned masks to protect themselves should the make the acquaintance of a spirit.
4. Trick-or-Treating and heaven-or-hell. When someone passed away in the village, Irish peasants would ask neighbors for food in exchange for prayers for the soul of that person. Eventually, this evolved into a trick being played if food was not given.
5. Halloween wasn’t always so scary. Today when you think of the ghosts, you might get an instant chill, but originally, the celebrations of Halloween honored the ghosts of our passed loved ones — which is still seen clearly in the celebrations around a similar holiday, Dia de los Muertos, (Nov. 2) which falls on the Catholic holy day of All Souls Day. In Mexico, elaborate ofrendas (altars) with pictures of deceased loved ones are decorated with flowers, food and candy.
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Valency was born in San Francisco to hippie parents, but is a Chicago girl through and through. Ten years of Catholic school helped her develop a finely-tuned bullshit detector, as well as a love of all sorts of Catholic kitsch. Valency isn't fond of labels. She is, however, fond of embracing her many paradoxes, and walking the fine lines between religion and politics, with an eye turned toward postmodern religion, feminist theology, and challenging patriarchy from inside religious institutions. She lives on the northside with her two daughters and two female cats, and is always looking for more ways increase the estrogen in her household.