Shannon Fennell's Blog

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today’s post brought to you by the colour orange

I’ve been wondering why orange and black are THE colours for Halloween…

So I did some research and found out… that no one knows for sure really.

There are some who say it originated with the Celts who used orange which was the colour of autumn and of ripe pumpkins symbolizing the harvest and black was the colour of mystery, the night and death – Halloween being a festival of the dead.

Apparently the Druids started the observance sometime between 1000 and 100 BCE to mark the end of the year when Baal, the Celtic God of Spring and Summer ended his reign and Samhain, the Lord of the Dead, began his.  Samhain was pronounced Sah-ween.

They believed that at this time of year that the portals to the other worlds were open and that the spirits of the dead and divine beings could move amongst them and potentially be dangerous.  Human sacrifices were made to appease these spirits – you’ ve heard of The Wicker Man?  That was how these sacrifices were made.

The day of November 1, which started at sunset October 31, was when the souls of the departed ancestors would visit the homes of their descendents and partake of the offerings left out for them – trick or treat anyone? 

The Celts also believed that those who died the previous year had been transformed into animals so they would dress up as animals themselves to welcome the dead and parade through the streets leading the spirits out of town.

The Roman influences in Britain banned human sacrifices and introduced some of their harvest traditions like bobbing for apples.

Centuries later Pope Gregory III moved a Christian observance of All Saint’s Day from May to November 1 in an effort to “de-paganize” the celebrations of All Hallows’ Eve.  Churches would hold pageants where people dressed up as saints and demons.

So Sah-ween became All Hallows’ Eve which over the years changed to All Hallow’s E’en to become simply Hallowe’en.

And I learned all that and still only have a guess that the colours of orange and black come from the harvest colours and the colour of death… which makes total sense.