As October approaches adorned in hues of orange and brown, so does Halloween. From carving pumpkins to eating unfathomable amounts of candy collected from your neighbors, there is a lot to anticipate during this time of year. But amid the fall festivities, have you ever taken a minute to wonder about where the frightful holiday came from? It may feel as American as apple pie, but in reality, the fall holiday is not national at all. The history of Halloween dates back thousands of years. The holiday has a much more interesting (and scarier!) back story than you might have first anticipated. So let’s travel back in time to learn what some of the very first celebrations of Halloween truly looked like.
According to history.com, Halloween originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. What is now known as Halloween used to be part of a two-day celebration known as ‘All Hallows’ Eve’. November 1st was a celebration to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of a new year. They believed that the day fell at a time where the veil between the living and the dead became blurred. This allowed those with blood still pumping through their veins to communicate with the ghosts now temporarily walking amongst the living. To commemorate the event, the people would have sacred bonfires to burn crops and offer sacrifices of livestock to the Celtic Deities. They even did it while in costume, which translates to the Halloween tradition of getting dressed up. However, eventually the Celts were conquered by the Romans, signaling the end of the traditional All Hallows’ Eve and the start of the mismatched holiday to be known as Halloween.
As people began to spread out across the globe, so did All Hallows’ Eve. This caused Halloween to become a mesh of different customs and beliefs, from Celts, to Romans, to Native Americans. Most major renovations occurred in the 1800s. America had begun to mold the glum night into a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter, exchanging the bonfire and sacrifices for a neighborly event where kids dressed up and went door-to-door asking for a treat. Soon enough, all Hallows’ Eve was forever to be known as Halloween and had officially lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones.
Fast forwarding back to present time, the arrival of Halloween is just around the corner. Soon enough it will be the night of October 31, and we will all be enjoying our favorite candy and telling our friends ghost stories, specifically the story behind Halloween!