Who has never wandered afield on a lonely October evening and has not heard, echoing in the gloom, the mournful questioning of an owl asking, “Who goes there?”
Or who has not heard the ghostly laughter of its screech owl cousin, watched a flight of geese in lonesome migratory calling, as they sweep across a moonlit sky, or heard the moaning winds striding through the treetops, and still not believe in ghosts and goblins?
It’s pretty much agreed the ancient roots of Halloween arose from a somber ritual known as Samhain, originally known as a Celtic celebration of Thanksgiving, when the flocks of sheep were returned from their summer pasturing and marking the successful completion of a year’s harvesting.
Over the centuries, various religious sects added differing concepts of Halloween. One version taught that it referred the evening before All Saints day and offered a bridge for any unsaved souls, stranded in the spirit world. The concept of a ghost, also known as a specter, is based on the ancient thinking that a person’s spirit exists separately from the body, and, unless properly saved, is destined to wander lost forever. Some societies chose Halloween funeral rituals as a way to ensure the wandering dead’s unsaved spirit would not return to “haunt” the living.
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The popularity of Halloween celebrations have risen to an all-time high, from corn mazes to pumpkin patches, mingled with images of ghosts, witches and goblins gone astray. It’s a time of celebrations with bonfires and jack-o’-lanterns glowing and guiding specters to their ghostly destinations.