The holy evening, otherwise known as Hallowe’en or Halloween, has been long
celebrated by the world as a glorious grande festivity. It marks the day on which
we could all dress up in scary stupid looking outfits, and make a fool out of
ourselves. Or just a day whereof we receive free candy by knocking onto the
doors of strangers, trying to appease to them by pulling off our most endearing
and delightful face. It is also a day some dread, as its spookiness tends to foster
feelings that are repugnant to some. In truth, All Hallows’ eve is a day unlike any
other, with a vast variation of activities of which one could perform. You could
choose from trick-or-treating, attending a Halloween costume party, carving
pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games
(maybe not), playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions (definitely not), telling
scary stories and watching HORROR FILMS.
But all that we know,
well maybe except for that first part about it being holy. Anyway, let us get into its
Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31. It originated
with the Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would light bonfires and wear
costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated
November 1 (previously being the Celts new year) as a time to honor all saints.
A day which later on incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.
Appropriately, the evening before came to be known as All Hallows Eve, and
later as Halloween. Evolving overtime to the way we know it today. In ancient
times, this day would mark the end of summer and the harvest, introducing the
dark, cold winter. A time of year that was often associated with death. Back then,
there was a common belief that had dictated the boundaries between the living
and the dead to become blurred. A belief that had stretched as far as to having
people think ghosts of the dead would return to the earth. To commemorate this
event, Celtic priests (Druids) would build a huge sacred bonfire, where people
would gather around to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic gods.
They would wear costumes, typically animal heads and skins. They would
proceed by extinguishing the fire, and then have it re-lit upon the closing of the
celebration. The bonfire is supposed to protect them from the coming winter.
A few alterations occurred at the hands of the Romans after conquering the
majority of the Celtic territory. As they had combined celebrations with the
Samhain. One Roman celebration was that of Feralia. A day in late October
when the Romans would traditionally commemorate the passing of the dead. The
second was the honoring of Pomona, the roman goddess of fruit and trees.
Pomona’s symbol is the apple, which is probably the provenance of the ‘bobbing’
By the 1920’s and 1930’s, Halloween had become secular, inaugurating the
notion of Halloween parties. However, vandalism would come to plague many
communities during the celebrations of that time. Authorities eventually managed
to quell the aforementioned felony during the 1950’s.
So you see that the origin of Halloween is as different as it is similar to today’s
Halloween. A day that has been bred from peculiarity, emerging into a revelry.
Fun Fact: One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for