We all know Halloween, don’t we? The costumes, the trick or treating, the jack-o’-lanterns and, most importantly, the teenage house-parties we’ve seen in a million movies. But… do you know how Halloween came to be one of the most loved holidays in America? Let’s go back in time to discover the roots of this haunted night!
To do that, we have to travel 2000 years back in time, to Samhain, a festival the Celtic people celebrated on November 1st to commemorate the change from summer to winter, from sunny to darker days. They believed that on the night before Samhain, the wall that separated the world of the living and the dead was a bit blurry and that ghosts and spirits would come to visit. They left food and treats on their doorstep to keep them at bay and would wear masks outside of their homes to trick them into thinking they were ghosts too.
In the 8th century, in a strategic move to turn pagans into Christians, the Catholic Church turned Samhain into All Saints, or all Hallows, the night before then being All Hallows Eve (that we would later know as Halloween). Even though they hoped for the spirit stories to disappear, the beliefs in the underworld were so strong they carried on; the pagans that kept honoring the old rites became witches, and the images of the underworld, Christian’s hell. The traditions we are so fond of originated in Medieval Britain and they all eventually finally merged into the day we celebrate nowadays. In those times, on November 2nd, the needy would beg for food, which they would trade for prayers for other families' dead relatives. Other people would dress up and perform in exchange of money or food.
In 19th century America, Irish and Scottish immigrants brought the tradition back. At first tricking was more like doing pranks, but as the tradition gained popularity, and following a baby boom in the 50s, Halloween became family friendly and was used as a way to grow a sense of community, and with the children as the center of the day, the costumes and candy collecting came to be the central focus of the holiday.
Maybe nowadays the holiday is about Spiderman costumes and tones of candy and chocolate, but we shouldn’t forget that this has been a haunted night for over 2000 years, so I wouldn’t do anything that could make spirits angry on All Hallows Eve… you really don’t want a spirit chasing you for the rest of eternity… don’t say we never warned you!
The place where the souls of those who died rest.
The ceremonial practices of a church or a group of people with the same beliefs.
Liking something a lot.
Being in need, in poverty.
A mischievous act.
To be visited by ghosts.
Something hunting you .