Halloween Holds Tradition

Happy Halloween

By Kristina J. and Samara SN.

Did you know that Halloween’s original name was All Hallows Eve? You would think that it would have stayed Halloween right? Well, I guess not.  

Halloween was originated with the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as a time to honor all saints and martyrs, the holiday All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The day before All Saints Day was known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween.

Over time Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating.

In a number of countries around the world, as the days get shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes, and sweet treats.

Celts who lived two thousand years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the U.K and Northern France celebrated their new year on November 1st.

The night of October 31st they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned.

To commemorate the event, druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

The Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins. They attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

The course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional celtic celebration of Samhain. The first festival was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second one was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.

Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints. May 13th to November 1st.

Halloween was much more common in Maryland and Southern Colonies. But, as the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebration in America included ¨ Play Parties,¨ public events held to celebrate the harvest, were neighbors would tell stories of the dead. Festivities also included mischief of all kinds.

Taking from Irish to English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s trick-or-treating.

In the late 1800’s there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” out of Halloween.

By the 1920’s and 1930’s Halloween had become a secular, but community based holiday.

Trick-or-treating was a relatively expensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. Families could prevent tricks being played on them by giving out small treats to children. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the county’s second largest commercial Holiday.

Well, now you know how Halloween came to be. I know the last thing you want to do is learn more then you already do, but when you are learning about something fun, is it really that bad?

Happy Halloween Everybody!


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