A Look at the Origins of Halloween
Trick or treat! No tricks here, just treats of information. Welcome back to Fun Fact Friday! Since Halloween was earlier this week, let us recall the source of this night of spooky specters and candy consumption.
All Hallows Eve began as a Celtic celebration of the end of summer known as Samhain (sow-in). The Celts started this tradition thousands of years ago as a time to remember the dead. They believed that on the night of October 31st those deceased returned to the land of the living. The celebration usually consisted of bonfires, dressing up in animal hides, and predicting one another’s futures. Apart from dressing up in “costumes”, most of the original traditions from this Celtic holiday have evolved or vanished over the centuries.
When immigrants first arrived in America during the 1600s, Halloween went largely unrecognized due to the large Protestant population and their strict convictions. It wasn’t until the 1800s when the potato famine drove many Irish (Celtic) immigrants to the U.S. that Halloween became more nationally observed. As the holiday became more popular, much of its religious and superstitious roots were done away with in an attempt to make Halloween more community and family-friendly.
The early Celtic traditions of dressing in animal hides to ward off evil spirits and leaving food out for visiting ghosts became what we now call trick-or-treating. In the mid-20th century, trick-or-treating revived as a social activity among the community. Children began dressing in costumes and visiting the neighbors for candy and goodies. Now, Halloween is America’s “second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.” I guess people really like candy or something.
Well, there you have it: a brief overview of Halloween and its origins. Did you already know the history? Was there something I left out? Comment below!