History of Halloween

While many would argue that today’s version of Halloween has become commercialized, there is a rich history to the holiday of Halloween, with traditions that have continued over centuries and lessons that can be applied to how we approach our every day lives.



Halloween is a time of both celebration and superstition, celebrating the end of fall and the beginning of winter and what that stands for: light vs. dark, life vs. death. The holiday is thought to have originated from the Celtic holiday Samhain, which celebrated the end of the harvest season and the start of winter, or the “darker” portion of the year. Celtics would wear costumes to honor the dead and ward off ghosts. It may have been believed that the beginning of winter was the most fitting time to honor the dead since the plants were ‘dying’ at this time. Today, Wiccans, a religious movement that stems from old Paganism, believe that Samhain marks when the veil between this world and the afterlife is at its thinnest, allowing communication with the dead.

As Christianity became popular in the 8th century, leaders of the religion looked for ways to incorporate traditions and holidays from other more established religions in order to encourage conversion. Pope Gregory III made November 1st a day to celebrate saints and martyrs, naming the holiday All Saints’ Day, incorporating some of the Samhain traditions. The evening before All Saint’s Day was called All Hallows’ Eve, which was eventually changed to Halloween. As decades passed, Halloween evolved beyond the religion of Christianity, becoming secularized and more community and children-oriented with the activity of trick-or-treating in the 1950s. Even though the holiday originated from centuries ago, it still holds strong today with many of the same traditions of dressing up in costume, paying respect to the dead, and ushering in the colder winter months.

Whether you call the holiday Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, remember the rich history of Halloween throughout the month of October as ghouls and goblins are hung in yards, costumes are worn, and trick-or-treating commences.

Comments

  1. […] you know about Halloween’s history, you know it’s full of rich, spooky origins, dating back to the Celtics. Even all the way […]

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