The History of Halloween

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The History of Halloween

Jenna Ranney, Feature Editor

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Every year on October 31, countries all over the world celebrate Halloween. We dress up as anything we want, go out to get candy, and even go to parties. This happens every year, but do we all know why this happens? The history of Halloween is always hidden behind the candy, the costumes, and the decorations.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in Ireland, United Kingdom, and France, celebrated their New Year on November 1. This day would be the ending of summer but the beginning of dark and cold winters. They associated this time of the year with human death. They blamed the death of their crops and predictions on the future from Celtic Priests on the spirits that came from this time. The Celts believed that on the night of October 31, before the new year, that the worlds of the living and the dead became meshed together. On that night, they celebrated Samhain because they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth. Huge fires were built and people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices. While doing this they dressed up, usually in animal skins and heads.

By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity had spread into the Celtic territory. The church made November 2nd All Souls’ Day. This day honored the dead. This was celebrated like Samhain, with big fires and costumes. All Saints Day celebration was also called All-Hallows or All-Hallowmas on November 1. So, the night before (October 31) was known to be All-Hallows Eve. Eventually, this turned into being called Halloween.

So how did Halloween come to America?

The celebration of Halloween was brought to America by the increased immigration. The protestant beliefs and Irish people brought this celebration, and popularized this holiday when they migrated over. At first, Halloween was only common in Maryland and other southern colonies. As these cultures and beliefs blended together, a more American Halloween was born. The first celebrations were a gathering to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell fortunes, and dance/sing.

Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, traditions from the Irish and English. This is where we got the idea of “trick-or-treat.” With this, Halloween in America became more about the community and neighborly get together rather than the dead and witchcraft. Parties for both children and adults dressing up in costumes was the most common way to celebrate Halloween by the turn of the century. Halloween lost most of the spooky and religious ideas behind it.

Halloween came a long way from where it started and is now commonly known as “spooky szn” among teenagers and young people, embracing the meme culture of the holiday. Have a good Halloween Bobcats!

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