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What Is So Spooky About Halloween Weather?

October 21, 2013

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Can you imagine trick or treating among the flowers in May? That’s when Halloween used to be.

It used to be the late May/early June evening before All Saints Day. (Hallow meant holy and een was short for eve or evening.) Then it was shifted to October and went from a gentle day of prayer to a scary evening of witches, bonfires and spooky fun. Why? What is so scary about October?

Halloween, the evening before All Saint’s Day was moved from spring to fall and became much scarier! Source: Wikipedia

The early Christian church used to shift many of its holidays to fit the schedules of its converts. If people were used to partying at certain times of the year, the Church placed a Christian holiday at that time. Christmas was moved to Winter Solstice and replaced the cheerfully debauched Roman Saturnalia. (Fortunately, gift giving survived the change.) In 835, Louis the Pious switched All Saints Day to November 1, to replace pagan harvest festivals.

All Saint’s Day was moved to the time that most Western Europeans slaughtered their animals! A rather bloody time of the year! Source: Wikipedia

Moving the holiday from warm spring like weather to chilly autumn, however, changed the whole nature of the celebration. All around, the weather was growing colder and plants were dying. As the grasses died, people had to decide which livestock they would feed all winter and which would be slaughtered. (The colder weather meant the meat would last better than it would in the heat of summer.) It was a cold, bloody time of the year. To the Celts, it was Samhain, summer’s end, a time of growing darkness when fairies and the dead could move abroad.

Brrrr! A holiday amid spirits and slaughtering feels very different from the spring like days of flowers and little lambs.

Europeans countered the colder, darker times with feasts and treats, bonfires and sometimes (to deceive witches and spirits) costumes. They frequently appeased the dead by visiting and cleaning the cemeteries. Some of these practices continued into the Christian era: Day of the Dead, Guy Fawkes Day bonfires, Halloween costumes and oodles of fattening treats.

Boo! Source: Wikipedia

So no matter what your faith, enjoy this Halloween. It is a time when people defy the growing cold and darkness with food and fun!

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Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist, is a longtime writer for The Old Farmer's Almanac. She is also editor of The Browning World Climate Bulletin and has advised farmers, businesses, and investors worldwide on upcoming climate events and their economic and social impact for the past 21 years.

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Why would anyone want to

By Sheri Talbott

Why would anyone want to celebrate a "holiday" in which was taken from pagan rituals and celebrations? Christmas is also full of pagans rituals. This can be verified in the encyclopedia. As is Easter, what does a bunny have to do with the resurrection of Jesus? Try looking that up as well, it's interesting.

Medieval superstition

By Evelyn Browning...

Medieval superstition believed that rabbits had virgin births. (Rabbits can get "knocked up" for the next litter while still pregnant with a first litter.) This made them relate rabbits with Virgin Mary. It's an odd tie, but then so are colored eggs.

Rabbits and eggs are pagan

By ggmelton

Rabbits and eggs are pagan fertility symbals-Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara.-http://www.goddessgift.com/pandora's_box/easter-history.html

Actually, folklore used

By Evelyn Browning...

Actually, folklore used believe that rabbits gave virgin birth. So bunnies became the symbol for Virgin Mary.

It was probably easier to get people to celebrate a religious holiday on a day that they were used to taking off from work and relaxing/partying. Church leaders used old religious symbols, like trees, to stand for Christian ideas.

I disagree. Halloween is

By Jill B.

I disagree. Halloween is based on the ancient rituals held on, as you say, harvest celebrations which have occurred since time immemorial at the end of autumn/start of winter. The church may have moved their saint-based holiday in order to overlay those festivals, but that does not mean that Halloween itself was EVER a spring holiday. No offense. :)

I agree with Jill. All

By January

I agree with Jill. All Hallows may have been in the spring and the church may have moved it to November 1, but the festival in October which we call Halloween comes from pagan rituals such as Samhain (a word which means November) and has always been a fall festival.

It's a great argument. The

By Evelyn Browning...

It's a great argument. The type of celebrations that we see were never staged in spring. However, the actual name "All Hallows Eve" was the evening before All Saints Day and that named event used to be in springtime. When All Saints Day moved, the way people behaved on the evening before really changed. Whatever the season -- Happy Halloween!

This isn't Evelyn,but it was

By potsonna2

This isn't Evelyn,but it was 835 AD.

Evelyn, what year did the

By donalee

Evelyn, what year did the change Halloween from spring/summer to October?

According to historian Ronald

By Evelyn Browning...

According to historian Ronald Hutton, All Saints Day was moved to November 1 in 835 AD. Celts and the English celebrated the evening before and we see the first written reference to All Hallows Eve in 1556 AD.

Thank you.

By donalee

Thank you.

I meant "that" in my last

By potsonna2

I meant "that" in my last post. Please forgive me.

Interesting! I hope tthat

By potsonna2

Interesting! I hope tthat everyone's weekend was both great and safe,plus I also hope that they have a happy Halloween!

I second the wish and hope

By Evelyn Browning...

I second the wish and hope everyone has good enough weather to celebrate the holiday!

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