Halloweek: History of Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2014

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This week I've decided to change things up a bit since Halloween is on a Friday this year! I'm going to do a Halloween-themed post every day this week up until Halloween as a part of something I'm calling "Halloweek." I hope you guys enjoy it!
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Pumpkins, costumes, candy, trick-or-treating, haunted houses...you probably relate these things to Halloween, but have you ever wondered where these traditions came from?

Well, if you are wondering, keep reading for a short history of Halloween! [All information below is from History.com]

Halloween's Beginnings

One depiction of the festival of Samhain.
Ever heard of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in)? Well, 2,000 years ago, the Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of winter, a time that was associated with human death. According to History.com, the Celts believed that on the night before the new year the boundary between the worlds of the living and dead became blurred. On October 31st they celebrated Samhain, which they believed was when the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth, causing trouble and damaging crops.

The Celts believed that the presence of these spirits made it easier for Druids and Celtic priests to make predictions about the future. To celebrate, they built huge sacred bonfires where people came together to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes and attempted to tell each other's fortunes.

A depiction of All Saints Day.

All Hallows Eve

On May 13, 609 A.D., All Martyrs Day was established by Pope Boniface IV by dedicating the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs. Pope Gregory III later expanded this festival to include all saints, and moved the date from May 1 to November 1.

In 1000 A.D., the church made November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. Many believe that the church was trying to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a more church-related holiday. All Souls' Day was celebrated like Samhain: with bonfires, parades and people dressing up in costumes, usually saints, angels and devils. This celebration was also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas, and the night before it, traditionally known as the festival of Samhain, was called All-hallows Eve, which eventually turned into Halloween!



The "trick-or-treating" Halloween tradition is said to date back to the All Souls' Day parades in England, where poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives. Giving out soul cakes replaced the ancient tradition of leaving food and wine out for roaming spirits, and was known as "going a-souling."

Halloween Costumes Back in the Day


Hundreds of years ago, winter was a dark and scary time. Food supplies ran low and on Halloween, when people believed that ghosts came back to Earth, people thought they would run into the ghosts if they left their homes.

So, to avoid being recognized by the ghosts, people started wearing masks when they left their homes so the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits.

On Halloween, people would leave food outside of their homes to keep the ghosts from trying to come in.

Bobbing for Apples

The Roman Empire conquered the majority of the Celtic territory by 43 A.D. and over the four hundred years they ruled the Celtic lands, they combined two festivals with the Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, where Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and the second was to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which is probably where the tradition of "bobbing for apples" came from.

What a history, huh? This was obviously just a short snippet of the history of Halloween, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless! Did you learn anything new that kind of surprised you? Let me know in the comments below!

Tune in tomorrow for the second day of Halloweek!

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