History of Halloween

Holiday season is approaching, but first we need to get through the biggest and baddest holiday of the year, Halloween. During spooky season, we have an excuse to eat all the candy we want, watch Hocus Pocus on repeat, dress up as whatever we wish to be, drink apple cider and eat pumpkin pie. It is arguably one of the best holidays of the year. But how did Halloween come about? Do you know the history behind this renowned holiday?

Every year we celebrate Halloween on Oct. 31, but for many, the festivities begin Oct. 1. The ancient origins of Halloween date back to Oct. 31 thousands of years ago. It all started during the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts lived 2,000 years ago in Europe celebrated their new year on Nov. 1. Their new year marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. A time of the year associated with human death. 

The Celts believed the night before the new year, the boundary between the living world and dead world became blurred. On Oct. 31, they celebrated Samhain because they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. They built huge sacred fires where people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices. People who participated, dressed up in costumes, typically in animal heads and skins. Samhain eventually joined with two Roman holidays, Feralia and a day to honor Pomona, a Roman goddess.

As beliefs and customs of different European groups and American Indians meshed, a distinct American version of Halloween arose. Neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Once Irish immigrants came over, Halloween was popularized nationally. 

Following European tradition, people began to dress up and go from house to house for candy. Which we now know as trick-or-treating. People were encouraged to take the “grotesque” out of Halloween, so the holiday lost most of its superstitious overtones by the beginning 2000s. 

Present-day Halloween is marked by trick-or-treating, Halloween movies, parties, black cats and ghosts. It has lost much of its original overtones and rituals and has modernized into a day for people to dress up and have a good time. 

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