Celebrating Halloween is so much fun, we wait for this magical day all year round. But how much do we really know about the origins of this celebration?
Do not fear! I Love Halloween has a basic timeline for you to sink your fangs into!
Where it all began...
Halloween is believed to have originated 2,000 years ago with the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) that was celebrated with bonfires and costumes. These rituals were performed to ward off the ghosts believed to be making their way back to earth. This was celebrated November 1 as it marked the end of summer and the harvest and the start of the brutal winter when the dead roam free. Spooky to think that there are ghosts around all winter long!
Later, in 43 A.D., after the Romans conquered the Celtic territory, two of their festivals were combined with the Samhain celebration. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the passing of the dead was honored, and the second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. This second festival is believed to be where today's "bobbing" for apples on Halloween began.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 as All Saints' Day, a time to honor all saints and martyrs. This holiday included some of the Samhain traditions like the big bonfires, the parades, and the dressing up as saints, angels and devils. The evening before was first known as All Hallows’ Eve and later on as... Halloween!
How Did Halloween Come To America?
During the second half of the nineteenth century, many of the Irish immigrants that came to America helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween. In the late 1800's Halloween began to transform into what we know it as today, a more family-centered, community-based holiday. As Halloween parties focused more on games, foods and festive costumes, most of its superstitious and religious overtones were lost by the beginning of the twentieth century.
As no history of Halloween would be complete without discussing the roots of trick-or-treating...
Trick-or-treating began with the All Souls’ Day parades in England where the poor citizens would receive pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their commitment to pray for the family's deceased relatives. This practice, “going a-souling” was eventually performed by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money. Between 1920 and 1950, trick-or-treating was revived as an easy, fun way for an entire community to get involved and enjoy the Halloween celebration.
Fast Fun Facts!
- One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.
- Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
Now that you know where the Halloween we celebrate in America comes from, I Love Halloween thought it would be awesome to sprinkle in some Halloween-y celebrations from another area! Mention this bit of information about Dia De Los Muertos this Halloween and surprise all your friends.
Where: Mexico, Latin America and Spain
When: October 31- November 2
What it is: A three-day celebration for All Souls’ Day that is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their homes on Halloween.
How it is celebrated: An altar is created in the family's home to honor their deceased relatives. Alters are decorated with candy, flowers, photographs, foods and drinks. It is believed that after the deceased who return to earth wash up and indulge in their favorite foods, they are guided back candles and incense. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite that they have cleaned and decorated in order to picnic and celebrate the deceased life.
Enjoy your Halloween!!!
Author: Gal Shyli Dayan