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Halloween likely comes to us from ancient Celtic tribes that lived in western Europe and the North Atlantic as much as 2,500 years ago. The first day of their new year was on or about Nov. 1, when they celebrated the end of summer and the beginning of winter with a festival honoring Samhain, Lord of the Dead.
The Celts believed the souls of the dead returned at that time to mingle with the living, so they wore masks and lit bonfires to frighten them away. When the Romans conquered the Celts about 55 B.C., they adopted Samhain, and added their own touches. Those included baking ossa dei morti (“bones of the dead”) cookies shaped like finger bones to purify their homes. (Visit https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bonz-of-the-dead-ossa-dei-morti-2108755.)
Trick or treating started in Ireland centuries ago when groups of farmers would go door-to-door collecting food and materials for a village feast and bonfire. Those who donated were promised prosperity, those who didn’t were threatened with bad luck. When Irish immigrants came to the United States in the 1800s, the custom of trick-or-treating came with them.
Pumpkin carving got its start when the Irish began hollowing out turnips to hold lighted candles to frighten off evil spirits. Pumpkins were substituted for turnips when the Irish came to America.
“Jack-o'-lantern has been used in American English to describe a lantern made from a hollowed-out pumpkin since the 19th century, but the term originated in 17th-century Britain, where it was used to refer to a man with a lantern or to a night watchman,” according to https://www.merriam-webster.com/.