The Origin of Halloween

Halloween is the that special time of year for cute, funny, or scary costumes and candy. But why do we celebrate this frightfully fun holiday and where does the name Halloween come from?

About 2,000 years ago, the Celts celebrated the end of summer and beginning of cold, gloomy weather. The fall and winter were often associated with sadness and death. They celebrated this occasion with a festival of Samhain on the night of October 31st where the people believed the spirits and ghosts of the deceased would travel from the spirit world to the real world. People would dress up as angels, devils, and saints and have big parties with bonfires and lots of food.

This tradition and belief remained a trend for the Celtics but when the Celts where conquered by the Romans, the festival of Samhain had a few adjustments. The Romans celebrated two festivals around the same time of year that were held to honor the dead and revere the Roman goddess of fruits and trees. Over time, Celtic and Roman traditions for October 31st combined. When the Roman Empire’s religion was mostly Christian, the Christians decided to replace the festival of Samhain with something similar but easy for the church to control. So, the Romans declared November 1st All-hallows or “All Saints Day” and November 2nd “All Souls’ Day”. On All Saints Day, the poor would beg for food and the people would give them “soul cakes” which were little pastries and this is where trick-or-treating originated. The night before All-hallows, October 31st (the original night of Samhain) became known as All-hallows Eve and people dressed up and threw parties. All-hallows Eve was eventually shortened to Halloween.

Halloween remained a popular holiday in Europe and when it reached colonial America, new traditions appeared. The people shared stories of the deceased with one another, ate sweet treats, had “play parties”, celebrated the harvest, and played tricks and pranks on each other. It wasn’t until the 1850s that Americans started dressing up, and that’s when the holiday really took off. Halloween evolved into a community holiday where neighbors could get together, dress up, pull pranks on each other, and share spooky stories. In the early 20th century, kids could receive a small treat by showing a trick and this is how the tradition of trick-or-treating got started in America. It has been one of the most popular and expensive holidays celebrated since then. People have gone crazy with candy, party supplies, costumes, and house decorations. Families still get together to celebrate the holiday and party and kids still go from door to door asking for something good to eat.

What kind of turn will this crazy, fun, and festive holiday take? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe upcoming Halloween. Don’t eat too much candy!

The Origin of Halloween
“History of Halloween .” A+E Networks, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.