As Halloween celebrations are approaching, it is really good to know some history behind this holiday, and discover what is Halloween Day & why is it celebrated throughout the world.
For example, in Mexico and other Latin American countries, Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) honors deceased loved ones and ancestors.
In countries such as Ireland, Canada and the United States, Halloween Day derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals, where traditions include costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks and games.
Halloween is the season for little ghosts and goblins to take to the streets, asking for candy and scaring one another silly.
Spooky stories are told around fires, scary movies appear in theaters and pumpkins are expertly (and not-so-expertly) carved into jack-o’-lanterns.
Where It Began
Well, it all began in Ireland, where Halloween originated.
Halloween, also known as All Hallows Eve, can be traced back about 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival held around November 1st, called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic, according to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries.
Samhain is also thought to have been a time of communing with the dead.
There was a belief that it was a day when spirits of the dead would cross over into the other world.
Such moments of transition in the year have always been thought to be special and supernatural.
In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts, and all over the country, children get dressed up in costumes and spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods.
After trick-or-treating, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends.
At the parties, many Halloween games are played, including “snap-apple,” a game in which an apple on a string is tied to a door frame or a tree, and players attempt to bite the hanging apple.
In addition to bobbing for apples, parents often arrange treasure hunts, with candy or pastries as the “treasure”.
The Irish play a card game where cards are laid face down on a table with candy or coins underneath them.
When a child chooses a card, he receives whatever prize is found below it.
A traditional food eaten on Halloween is barn-brack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home.
A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future.
If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed, and a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way.
Children are also known to play tricks on their neighbors, such as “knock-a-dolly,” a prank in which children knock on the doors of their neighbors, but run away before the door is opened.
What’s The Story Behind Halloween Day
Ancient Origins and why is Halloween celebrated on October 31st
Halloween has its roots in the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31.
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain.
People would gather to light bonfires, offer sacrifices and pay homage to the deceased.
During some Celtic celebrations of Samhain, villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away phantom visitors, banquet tables were prepared, and edible offerings were left out to placate unwelcome spirits.
In later centuries, people began dressing as ghosts, demons and other malevolent creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink.
This custom, dates back to the Middle Ages and is thought to be an antecedent of trick-or-treating.
Guy Fawkes Day – England
Still another potential trick-or-treating predecessor is the British custom for children to wear masks and carry effigies while begging for pennies on Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night), which commemorates the foiling of the so-called Gunpowder Plot in 1605.
On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed for his role in the Catholic-led conspiracy to blow up England’s parliament building and remove King James I, a Protestant – from power.
On the original Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated immediately after the famous plotter’s execution, communal bonfires, or “bone fires” were lit to burn effigies and the symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope.
By the early 19th century, children bearing effigies of Fawkes were roaming the streets on the evening of November 5, asking for “a penny for the Guy.”
Mexico and Latin America – Dia De Los Muertos
In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, the “All Souls Day”, takes place on November 2, and is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31.
The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween.
Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water.
Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.
Día de los Muertos festivities often feature breads, candies and other foods in the shape of skulls and skeletons.
Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find the way home.
Relatives also tidy the grave sites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting.
The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers.
On November 2, relatives gather at the grave site to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band.
Trick-or-Treat in United States
Some American colonists celebrated Guy Fawkes Day, and in the mid-19th century large numbers of new immigrants, especially those fleeing the in the 1840’s, helped popularize Halloween.
In the early 20th century, Irish and Scottish communities revived the Old World traditions of souling and guising in the United States.
This trend was abruptly curtailed, however, with the outbreak of World War II, when children had to refrain from trick-or-treating because of sugar rationing.
At the height of the postwar baby boom, trick-or-treating reclaimed its place among other Halloween customs, quickly becoming standard practice for millions of children in America’s cities and newly built suburbs.
No longer constrained by sugar rationing, candy companies capitalized on the lucrative ritual, launching national advertising campaigns specifically aimed at Halloween.
Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the nation’s second-largest commercial holiday.
As you can see, the symbolism is the same where celebration of Halloween day takes part in honoring the dead.
How do you celebrate Halloween day?
Source: Livescience – History of Halloween
Source: History – Halloween
- 25 Of Our Favorite DIY Halloween Decor Ideas
- Are Halloween Costumes And Make Up Poisoning Us
- Why Buckwheat Is The New Super Food
- How Easter Celebrations Make People More Closer To Be!
- Christmas Eve Traditions From Around The World