The History of Halloween
Learn a little Halloween history before trick or treating this year.
Every American has heard of Halloween. We've all seen kids dressed as witches, vampires, ghosts or their favorite movie characters. Halloween has been celebrated in the
In The Beginning
At first, many hundreds of years ago, Halloween began as a harvest celebration. It was a time celebrated by the ancient Gaels of Ireland. The Gaelic people called this ancient Celtic festival Samhain, which was a celebration of the end of the harvest season. It was also sometimes referred to as the Celtic New Year. This was a time when the Gaels would end their harvest and begin preparing for winter, which included slaughtering cows for meat stores.
Halloween as we know it came about because they also believed that it was at this time, October 31st specifically, that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead could be breached and the dead could cause disease and ruin crops. As a result, the pagan Gaels would have bonfires during this time and throw the bones of their slaughtered cows into the fire, wearing scary masks to mimic the evil spirits in an attempt to please them and prevent them from wreaking havoc.
All Hallows Eve
The name Halloween was originally Hallow's Eve, which was short for All Hallow Evening (now more commonly called All Hallows Eve), named as such because it falls on the day before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. The Irish brought Halloween to the
The Jack O' Lantern
The Jack O' Lantern, probably the most famous and recognizable of Halloween icons, actually came from two different traditions. In
Trick or Treating
This tradition also originated in medieval Ireland, where beggars would go from door to door on All Hallow Day begging for food in exchange for praying for the dead. At the time, it was called "souling" as the beggars were praying for lost souls.
The first known reference to the practice in the
Halloween Around the World
Because Halloween originated in
In more recent years due to the popularity of