As Halloween approaches on Oct. 31, parents and kids of all ages are getting costumes finished, carving out jack-o-lanterns, and candy is being bought for the trick-or-treaters. Before rushing out on All Hallows’ Eve, here is a look back at the beginning of Halloween and its extraordinary customs and traditions.
Halloween was first celebrated about two thousand years ago held at the start of November called “Samhain” (pronounced sow-win), which translates to “Summer’s End” in the Gaelic language. Since records are scarce or in fragments, not much is known about Samhain. Many use this time to bring animals home from the fields and stockpile resources to survive the winter. The Celts also believed that the dimensions were the thinnest, so the dead could walk amongst the living.
The holiday is typically used to play with the idea of death. People can dress up as a zombie or a vampire, lawns are strewn with gravestones, and other activities that would not be accepted any other time of the year. There is no hard evidence that Samhain was specifically devoted to the dead or to ancestor worship though many believe so.
According to worldhistory.org, Pope Boniface IV established All Saints’ Day in the 7th century in an attempt to displace the holiday with a form of Christian celebration which was originally May 13, but was moved to Nov. 1. When the Middle Ages began to come to an end, Halloween and All Saints’ Day had merged. The holiday was essentially put to an end for the Protestants, but Britain continued celebrating the spooky season. Halloween was forbidden among American colonists but in the 1800s festivals were made that marked the beginning of harvest and included elements of Halloween. When the immigration of the mid 19th century occurred, the Irish brought their customs with them, and in the 20th century, Halloween became a principal holiday.
According to tradition, dressing in costumes is a popular norm for Halloween. “Guising” was a practice of where people would disguise themselves in costumes typically made out of straw and then sometimes they were used in plays and skits as well. It is linked to “souling” in Britain where people would go and knock on doors and ask for food in trade of prayers for the dead.
From livescience.com, many Christians believe All Hallows’ Eve is a satanic holiday because of its roots, but the Celts never worshipped the Devil or even knew the concept of the Devil. Since the time of the Celts, adults, parents, and children alike have adopted the customs of Halloween. Various supernatural beings have also been incorporated in the holiday such as monsters, vampires and many others. Dressing as ghosts and werewolves may be seen as a fashionable costume, but as the holiday became more widespread, costume variations have increasingly expanded from woven straw cloaks to superheroes.