Happy Halloween Everyone! I don’t know about you, but I have always wondered what the story is behind Halloween and how did Halloween become a celebrated holiday in America. So, I did some research and here is what I found…
The History Of Halloween
The origins of Halloween date all the way back to the Celts of ancient Ireland, who celebrated the new year on November 1st. That day marked the transition from the warm, fruitful summer months to the cold and dark winter, a period that was most often associated with death. So, on October 31st, the night before the new year, they celebrated what was known as Samhain. It was a night when the boundary between the living world and the world of the dead became thin, and ghosts could return to walk the earth, or so they believed. These meddlesome ghosts damaged crops and caused trouble, but the blurred line to the spirit world also made it easier for Celtic priests to make predictions about the coming year.
How Did Halloween Traditions Start & Why?
Those same prophecy-speaking priests commemorated the night by building huge bonfires that became the hub for evening activities. People gathered around in costume to disguise themselves from ghosts, tried to tell each other’s fortunes, enjoyed a big feast, and made lanterns out of gourds.
These pagan traditions continued until Christianity extended its influence into the Celtic lands, and the celebration became generally toned down. The name “Halloween” came from the Christian All Souls’ Day celebration, also known as “All-Hallows.” Since All-Hallows was on November 1st, people began to call Samhain “All Hallows Eve.” Now, what about the apples on Halloween? That can be possibly attributed to their introduction to early Roman conquests and the Romans’ own fall holiday which was symbolized by an apple.
How Did Halloween Become An American Holiday?
The Halloween that we know today is a result of the great American immigrant melting pot. Our distinctly American version began with public events to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would gather at these “play parties” to share stories of the dead (also known as ghost stories) and enjoy some mischief-making. Still, it was not until a large wave of Irish immigrants came over during the 19th century that the holiday became widely celebrated across the country. American children took a note out of the European book and began going door-to-door asking for treats or “soul cakes.”
As the more serious, life-or-death parts of the Celtic traditions began to fade, new lighthearted variations emerged: Fortune-telling, for example, turned into bobbing for apples in which women could find out which suitor (the apple) she would eventually “bite into” (as in, marry ). Young Irish and Scottish kids helped bring about the tradition of costumes. The pranksters went from dressing up as priests to putting together scary creatures intended to spook the neighborhood.
Eventually, the games, mischief-making, and hunt for sweets all melded together into trick-or-treating, and the whole thing became more about community than anything else. By the time the 20th century rolled around, it was an essentially secular holiday centered on neighborhood get-togethers and parties.
Today Americans still love Halloween and put modern twists on their celebrations. However you celebrate the spookiest day of the year, please have fun and be safe and until Wednesday, be happy, healthy, and beautiful!