Happy Halloween! A yearly celebration in many countries, Halloween is a fun holiday filled with candy, costumes and parties. But do you know where these Halloween activities originated?
From Samhain to Halloween
The origin of Halloween dates back the Celtic harvest festival Samhain (names after Lord of the Dead also known as the Lord of Darkness), which was annually celebrated on November 1. Back then, winter was the time of year associated with human death. During this time, it was believed spirits or fairies could more easily come into our world. Bonfires were lit and offerings of food and drink were left in order to ward off any ghosts. People wore masks outside the home to trick any wandering dark spirits into believing they too were one of the dead.
In the eighth century, the Christian church designated November 1 as All Saints Day or All Hallows Day, and incorporated many of the traditions of Samhain. The night before was called All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween.
Costumes and Trick-or-Treating
The tradition of dawning costumes on Halloween dates back to the English medieval custom of “souling.” Soul cakes to commemorate the dead were traditionally made during All Hallows’ Eve. The poor, dressed in costume, would knock on doors from house-to-house to ask for food. Soul cakes were given in exchange for singing and saying prayers for the dead.
Today, communities celebrate by throwing large gatherings, parades and costume parties. Children go trick-or-treating, enjoy pumpkin carvings and bobbing for apples.
What’s your favorite Halloween activity?