The origin and brief history of Halloween

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s almost Halloween, my personal favorite. Halloween is a holiday that, in modern times, celebrates ghosts, ghouls, zombies and anything spooky really. And of course, free candy! Who doesn’t love the free candy? However, Halloween is a very old holiday with a rich history that not many know about, including myself. So I researched the origin and history of my favorite holiday and here’s what I found.

Halloween originated in Celtic tradition with a festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which was celebrated on the same day as modern Halloween. During Samhain people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. During this day, Pagans believed that the worlds between the afterlife and the living aligned, allowing ghosts to walk freely around the living world. They believed the ghosts would wreak havoc on their crops and spread illness.

In the 7th century, Pope Gregory III dedicated May 13th as a time to honor the saints, which included some aspects of Samhain, and during this time they would commemorate the dead.

In the 9th century it was changed to November 1st. Many historians believe it was changed to overshadow the Pagan festival. It was called All Saints Day, and the night before that was called All Hallows’ Eve which was later called Halloween.

By 1550s, Allhallowtide – a three day event, was recognized and almost obligatory in most of Europe. During these three days people would mourn the dead, dressed in black, and treat on soul cakes which were given out to remember the dead.

The 1700s is when some of the modern practices of Halloween come into play. People celebrating Samhain, would go door-to-door exchanging sung songs for food, and doing so while in costume, of course. Some would play pranks on people and hold lanterns made of gourds to imitate the malicious spirits that come out during Samhain. Even bobbing for apples was recorded in Scotland, but it was called “dooking.”

During the 1800s an influx of Scottish and Irish immigrants came to the U.S. bringing along their Halloween traditions.

Which brings us back to the present. Now, Halloween’s humble beginnings are but a tale lost, mostly, to time. And possibly bad record keeping.

For more information about the origins of Halloween, please check out the following websites:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/timeline-origin-halloween-article-1.2406149

http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s