Halloween,Trick or Treats and Jack ‘o Lanterns

Halloween is one of America’s favourite holidays, but do you know the real story behind the tricks and treats behind Halloween.
Halloween pumpkins
Carved pumpkins ready for Halloween

Falling in between Autumn and winter, plenty and scarcity, and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween is widely believed to originate from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts that supposedly roamed the land.

In the eighth century Pope Gregory III called for November 1st as a day to honour all saints and martyrs and call it All Saints Day, incorporating some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening of October 31st was then called All Hallows Eve, later called Halloween.

Over time Halloween evolved into a community based event with children trick or treating activities.

Origins of Halloween

The origins of Halloween date back 2,000 years ago to the time of the Celtic festival of Samhain in Ireland, United Kingdom and Northern France. Then, the Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st which marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark winter.

To commemorate the event Druids built massive sacred bonfires for people to gather round to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration the Celts wore costumes consisting of animal heads and skins.

After the celebrations had ended they re-lit their hearth fires which had been extinguished earlier in the evening from the sacred bonfire which they thought would help protect them from the coming winter.

Halloween today

Two thousand years later Halloween has evolved from a sombre pagan ritual to a day of merriment, parades, costumes, and sweet treats for children and adults.

Halloween is now a major holiday in America. Their shops begin selling costumes and candy soon after Labour Day and sadly the true meaning of Halloween, an Irish, British and French tradition has been lost to capitalism.


Author: Jim Harrison

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