Days are becoming shorter, pumpkins are growing bigger, and the autumn is in full swing. All that means Halloween is coming soon. Tomorrow, we'll all celebrate it as a holiday when children have fun with treats and costumes. However, long time ago, Halloween was full of mystery and superstitions. So, how did it transform from the dark Celtic festival to a community-based event for children? Let’s dive into the history of celebrating Halloween.
The history of celebrating Halloween
Halloween takes its roots from the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. Led by druids, Celts made huge bonfires and wore costumes of animals. They believed the fire, which was brought to the hearth from the sacred bonfire, would protect them during winter, and scary costumes would frighten off ghosts.
Later, after Romans conquered Celtic lands, their cultures blended. In such a way, two Roman festivals mixed with Celtic Samhain and gave it a new sound.
In the 7-th century, Pope Boniface IV designed All Martyrs Day in the Catholic Church. Pope Gregory III transformed the feast into All Saints Day in the 8-th century. The next span commemorated the spread of Christianity into Celtic territories.
Therefore, by 1000 A.D., Christian impact gave its fruits, replacing Celtic pagan traditions. The success of the church was not absolute because different rites blended again. Thereby, November 2 was announced as All Souls’ Day. This holiday was meant to honor the dead and replace the Celtic festival of the dead. Though, the features of celebrating, such as bonfires and costumes, remained. This was the time when the holiday was also called All-hallows Day and the night before it – All-hallows Eve.
In America, at the times of colonial New England, Halloween celebration was not widespread because of the Protestant church. However, after various European and Indian traditions got into the Melting Pot, the process of creating a unique American Halloween celebration started. It was full of mischief-making, dancing, singing and telling ghost stories. It also became an annual harvest festival and spread almost across the whole country by the 19-th century.
Then the Irish came. Their influence made Halloween a national holiday. Irish and English emigrants popularized a custom of dressing up in costumes and visiting neighbors to ask for food or money. Later, the community decided to discard the role of witches and ghosts and to turn Halloween into the neighbor children-friendly festival.
In the 20-th century, Halloween started losing its frightening and superstitious nature. People made it a community centered holiday. They organized parties, parades and dozens of children activities. In the 1950s, “trick-or-treat” tradition revived and became an inevitable part of the holiday.
Interesting fact: Every year, Americans buy one-quarter of all the candies made in the U.S. for Halloween.
Nowadays, we cannot imagine Halloween without marvelous costumes and tons of sweets. Children enjoy the holiday and do not recall those scary dark days when Halloween was the day of ghosts returning to this world.