Flag Display – Halloween
Halloween or Hallowe’en is celebrated across the world on the night of 31 October.
The origins of these celebrations however can be traced back to an ancient pagan festival which was been assimilated into the celebrations of invading civilisations and eventually incorporated into the Christian calendar.
Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland. On the day corresponding to November 1 on contemporary calendars, the new year was believed to begin. That date was considered the beginning of the winter period, the date on which the herds were returned from pasture and land tenures were renewed. During the Samhain festival the souls of those who had died were believed to return to visit their homes, and those who had died during the year were believed to journey to the otherworld. People set bonfires on hilltops for relighting their hearth fires for the winter and to frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by the ghosts thought to be present. It was in those ways that beings such as witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and demons came to be associated with the day.
The Romans conquered much of the Celtic tribal lands when they invaded from mainland Europe in 43 AD, and over the next four hundred years of occupation and rule, they appear to have assimilated many of their own celebrations into the existing Celtic festivals.
As the Romans moved out of Britain it was invaded and settled by many peoples, including Jutes and Angles from modern Denmark, and Saxons from northwest Germany. The native Celtic tribes were pushed to the northern and western extremes of Britain, to present day Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.
In the centuries that followed, Britain was also invaded by a new religion. Christian teaching and faith was arriving, spreading inwards from those northern and western extremities from the early Celtic Church, and up from Kent with the arrival of Saint Augustine from Rome in 597. Along with the Christians arrived the Christian Festivals and amongst them All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints Day, a day to remember those who had died for their beliefs.
The night or evening of Samhain therefore became known as All-hallows-even then Hallow Eve, still later Hallowe’en and then of course Halloween. A special time of the year when many believe that the spirit world can make contact with the physical world, a night when magic is at its most potent.
There will be a display of flags in the town centre to celebrate Halloween.
The Flag Force team within Harleston’s Future runs an annual programme of flag displays in the town centre. Making use of the holders for the Christmas trees above shops along the main streets, these provide a continual use for an otherwise once a year display. The programme has been so successful it has encouraged other towns to follow the lead. Come and see the original and largest annual display of flags. You could even try and visit Harleston and see each flag display during the whole year. Great fun for children of all ages.