Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated on October 31 each year. This autumn Halloween 2019 is coming on Thursday, October 31.
The tradition began with the ancient Celtic festival Samhain. People lit fires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, November 1 became the day to honor all the saints. The day before was called Eve of All Saints, later known as Halloween. Halloween was gradually turning into a big holiday filled with various activities: Trick or Treat, creating pumpkin lanterns, festivals, costumes, and lots of sweets, as it comes to us today.
The origins of Halloween heads back to the ancient Celtic Samayn festival. The Celts lived 2000 years ago in the region where now Ireland, Great Britain and northern France are. Their celebration of New Year was on November 1. This also meant the end of summer and harvest time, and the beginning of a dark and cold winter time. The dark season was then closely associated with death. According to the belief of Celts the night before the New Year was the thin border between the worlds of the living and the dead, so the spirits of the dead could return to earth. The Celts thought, it could cause troubles and harm the harvest, but also this made it easier for druids to predict the future. Those predictions were the light, an important source of guidance during the long, dark winter.
To mark this event, the Druids made huge sacred bonfires for gathering and the celebration. The Celts wore festive costumes, consisting of the heads and skins of animals. They lit their hearths from the sacred bonfire to protect their houses in the coming winter.
By 43 A.D the Roman Empire conquered most of Celtic territory, and so traditions of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic ones. Among other traditions Pomona was celebrated, the Roman goddess of fruits and trees. They symbol of Pomona is an apple, that probably explains the modern tradition of bobbing apples on Halloween.
By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity spread to the Celtic lands. 1000 AD the church made November 2 the day of All Souls to honor dead people. The parades were featured with costumes of saints, angels and devils. The night before, the traditional night of Samhain by the Celts, became first All Saints Eve and, finally, Halloween.
Being limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief system, Halloween was more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.
American version of Halloween began to develop then. The first celebrations looked like game parties to celebrate the harvest. Stories about the dead were told each other, people danced and sang.
In the mid-19th century, annual fall festivals became common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated across the country.
In the second half of the 19th century, new immigrants came to America. Following European traditions, Americans began to dress in suits and go from house to house to ask for food or money. According to the tradition young women believed that on Halloween they could learn the name of their future husband, or see his image in the mirror.
In the late 1800s Halloween turned into a holiday about community, it was about neighborhood gatherings, much more than witchcraft, with games, seasonal dishes and festival costumes.
To the beginning of the 20th century Halloween lost most of its religious nuances. It became the celebration with parades for entertainment.
In the 1950s, Halloween became a holiday mostly for youth. The centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating came to the surface again. A renewed American tradition was growing to the big event. Americans spend about $ 6 billion on Halloween every year, what makes it the second largest commercial holiday in the country after Christmas.
The American Halloween tradition, Trick or Treat, dates back to the early Parade of All Souls' Day in England. During these holidays poor people asked for food, and citizens were giving them baked “soul cakes,” in exchange for a promise to pray for the dead members of the family. This was something similar to the ancient practice of leaving food and wine to wandering ghosts. This practice was ultimately adopted by children who visited houses in the neighborhood and received some sweets and money.
The Halloween costume tradition has both European and Celtic roots. In ancient times winter was a dark terrible time. For many people dark winter days were full of constant worries about food and surviving in the cold.
On Halloween, when it was believed that spirits would return to the world of living, people wore masks not to be recognizable by these spirits, if they left their homes after dark. This gave them the sureness, the spirits would consider them brothers when meeting.
Halloween has always been a holiday full of secrets and magic, with people's belief, they could meet the dead relatives and friends. People could sit at the dinner table, living some food at the doorstep and on the side of the road and lit candles to help friendly spirits find the way back.
Today's Halloween ghosts are often portrayed as evil. Our tradition to avoid crossing paths with black cats, cause that could bring us misfortune, comes from the Middle Ages, when people believed that witches could turn into black cats. On Halloween, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, cracks in the street or spilling salt.
But many Halloween traditions have been forgotten, like rituals focused on the future rather than the past and life rather than the dead.
Thus young women considered this day the best to identify their future husbands and predict, if they would be happy in the marriage. They also made different mystical rithuals to meet true love. Girls ate a sweet mix of walnuts and nutmeg before going to bed on Halloween to see the future husband in the dreams.
To sum up here are
1. Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday in America, after Christmas. It is a $6 billion Industry.
2. Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years and so it is one of the oldest celebrations in the world.
3. Traditions that lead to the modern celebration were brought to America by immigrants from Europe. They are connected to the harvest celebration around a bonfire, sharing scarry ghost stories, singing and dancing as well as predicting fortunes.
4. This is a Celtic tradition of wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized by the goasts as humans.
5. In Great Britain, Jack-O-Lanterns are traditionally created from turnips. This tradition came to America through Irish immigrants, but turnip was quite expensive, so Americans used pumpkins.
6. Not everyone is a fan of trick-or-treating. In 2010, Belleville, Illinois, trick-or-treating for kids over 12 was banned.
7. Salem, Massachusetts and New Orleans are the major cities marked for the biggest celebration in the U.S. with New Orleans having the world record for the largest Halloween Party with 17,777 costumed people.
8. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
9. Children are more than twice as likely to be killed in a car accident on Halloween than on any other night.
10. The word "bonfire" has it's roots in Halloween. During the celebration of Samhain, bonfires were lit to make sure the sun would return after the dark winter. Druid priests often threw the bones of cattle into the flames and so it was called “bone fire”.
11. The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, in the meaning “wise woman.”
12. Black cats were believed to be the companions of witches’ powers. However, in England white cats are believed to bring bad luck and black cats bring good fortune.
13. Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was one of the most mysterious magicians in the history. Mystically he died in 1926 on Halloween night.
Halloween is a good holiday to surprise someone with a little gift. Maybe your best friend is just obsessed with the celebration. Bring something nice to his or her holiday celebration!
This can be a custom accessory, like a key chain with a funny engraving or a Skeleton Initial Bookmark.
Choose nice smelling Ghost Candles to add the atmosphere to the evening. Sweeets are one of the best gift ideas, but of course not usual ones. Thus you may choose Chocolate Skull Lollipops or Candy Witches, Decorated Spider Cookies. Jewelry would also be a beautiful gift.
Choose Wooden Ghost Earrings or a bracelet with a mysterious engraving, or an evil eye protective talisman.
Halloween Treats Gift Basket full of Halloween-themed treats is a great idea.
Hey! Do you celebrate Halloween? What is your favorite tradition?
Comments will be approved before showing up.