The Ancient Roots
October 31st was considered the end of the year by the Celts. It also signified the end of summer and the harvest. In their religion, the Druids were like priests. The veil between the physical world and the spirit world was supposed to be at its thinnest on Samhain (October 31), and the Druids were supposed to be able to communicate with the dead to predict the outcome of the new year.
One of the big parts of the celebration was a huge bonfire where they burned the remains of the crops. Sometimes they would sacrifice animals to appease the gods for a prosperous new year. The animals used in these ceremonies were selected carefully and believed they were unable to survive on their own throughout the harsh winter months ahead.
The Celts would wear laving costumes constructed mostly of animal skins and heads.
At the end of the ceremony, each family would take a part of the bonfire back to their home and relight their fireplace that had been extinguished earlier in the evening.
When the Romans took over, they blended this celebration with their own that remembered the dead called Feralia.
Eventually, the name of the holiday became All Hallows Eve which got contracted to Halloween.
Halloween in America
When the Puritans came to America, they did not bring Halloween as they considered that a pagan abomination. Halloween was almost all but forgotten until the large immigration wave in the mid 1800’s. In Ireland, people would carve turnips and beets into lanterns which were used to trick the evil spirits away from the villages. In America, they started carving pumpkins into these lanterns.
In the 1890’s, Halloween parties were hosted in the homes, and people would eat seasonal food, play games, and started wearing costumes. Most were friendly and people would stay away from scary costumes and telling ghost stories.
Starting around the 1920’s, Halloween festivities started becoming a community event with parades and city-wide parties. In the 1950’s, the parties started getting into the classroom. Trick or Treating started to come back into fashion.
What’s your favorite candy?