Once Upon a Halloween…

I realize that I’m a WHOLE two days late but the season is still in the air and I know that EVERYONE wants to know everything possible about their favorite spooky holiday. Every Halloween comes and goes faster than the last and with every year the holiday becomes more and more popular across American college students. Whether its the costumes or the parties, students fallen in love. But how, fellow students, did this holiday come to be.

Apparently the very thought of Halloween is over 2,000 years old. It goes back to the Celts when they used to celebrate the new year on November 1st. It marked the last day of summer and what they called the first day of darkness. The Celts believed that the night before the new year the ghosts of the dead returned to earth to cause trouble and damage crops. This became known as the Festival of Samhain. The Celts also believed that during this time the presence of otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids or Celtic Priests to make predictions about the future. The Druids would build sacred bonfires and the Celts wore costumes.
After the Roman Empire conquered Celtic territory, many of the Roman traditions began to meld with the Celtic ones. The Romans had two festivals at the end of October. One to commemorate the passing of the dead, the other to honor the Roman goddess, Pomona, of fruit and trees. Her symbol is the apple. And so bobbing for apples was born.

By 609 AD Pope Boniface IV dedicated May 13 as all Christian Martyrs Day. It wasn’t until Pope Gregory III that this day became known as All Saints Day and was moved to being celebrated on November 1st. By 1000 AD November 2nd was declared All Souls Day and was celebrated in much the same way as the Celtic Festival of Samhain. All Saints Day was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas and the night before, the traditional Celtic Festival of Samhain became known as All-hallows Eve.

When Halloween first started in the colonies, it wasn’t very popular outside of Maryland. Their celebrations included “play parties,” public events, sharing stories of the dead, telling each other’s fortunes, and dancing and singing. What we call Halloween now didn’t come into existence until the holiday hit America and spread like wide-fire with the immigrants of the mid 19th century. By the 20’s and 30’s Halloween became the secular holiday we all now know and love. Trick or Treating slowly became more and popular between the 20’s and 50’s. Not only did families use this as a way to build relationships within their community but they also used it as a way to avoid having tricks played on them. It would soon be known as the American tradition added to the old Celtic Festival of Samhain.