Halloween History

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Halloween has become a popular holiday around the world, yet it is always intiguing to discover its origins. Here we have a brief look at where this tradition began and how it evolved into what we know it today.

History

Thousands of years ago the Celtic in a region now known as Ireland would celebrate a day on the 31st of October called Samhain, which in old Irish is roughly translated to summer’s end. The 1st of November was also associated with the New Year and the start of the cold, dark, wet winter. This time was commonly associated with human death. At this time the Celts believed that the world of the living and the world of the dead became blurred.

They would light big bonfires to burn off any dead livestock and in some cases use it to perform a cleansing ritual. People would also dress up in animal skins and heads and attempt to tell each other’s fortunes.

By 43 A.D. the Romans’ had conquered most Celtic land and with it brought their own Christian traditions. By 800 A.D. in an attempt from the church to replace the Celtic tradition with a church approved holiday, November the 1st was named All-hallows, in recognition of all the unknown or lesser known saints and martyrs.

Later Samhain was referred to as All-hallows eve and later became Hallow e’en. The Celtic traditions still stuck and the costumes and big bonfires remained, which were later transformed into the traditions we see today.

Where Did Jack-O’-Lanterns Come From?

carvings 

Jack-O’-Lanterns were believed to come from a long tradition of carving vegetables to create lanterns. It wasn’t until 1866 that this became associated with Halloween. It was first associated with the harvest season before it was associated with Halloween. Now scary faces and other carvings are used, primarily on pumpkins for Halloween decorations.

There are many stories on why it may be called a Jack-O’-Lantern, primarily around an old Irish farmer named Jack. However it is unclear on where the name actually originated from.

Trick Or Treating

Trick or treating is certainly common place in Northern America. It refers to children going from door to door to ask for treats and if they don’t receive any, they will perform some act of mischief. It is believed that trick or treating actually came from the poor going around from door to door, souling on November the 1st. Souling is the act of saying a prayer for the families dead in return for some food.

 

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artbeco/272778611/