Dear Whoever Has Wanted To Know the History of Halloween,        10/26/11

     Halloween to us now is dressing up in costumes, going to parties, or going out and to other peoples’ doorsteps and getting candy, or staying home while people come to your doorsteps and you dish out candy. Right? But how’d it start? Who started it? When? Why? Why was the person responsible for it think we needed this crazy fun holiday? Was it always this way or did it evolve like everything else over time? Let’s answer some of these questions, shall we?

     Halloween is believed to come from the Celtic festival, Samhain. The Celtics lived about 2,000 years ago. Then back in the 18th century, Pope Gregory III made November 1st into a holiday to honor all the saints and martyrs, this holiday was called All Saints’ Day. It included some traditions of Samhain. The evening before(October 31st) was called Hallows’ Eve, the name was changed to Halloween, and hence from there do we get the nickname for our holiday- Halloween.

     Samhain was the day before the new year for the Celtics in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. The new year was November 1st and Samhain was celebrated on October 31st. Not only to honor priests nd martyrs, but it also marked the end of summer and harvest and marked the beginning of the winter and what was considered to be the season for human death. The Celtics also believed that the night before the new year(10/31), was when the boundry between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead was the most blurred, resulting in the ghosts of the dead coming back to earth, possibly damamging crops and causing trouble. Also on the Samhain, the Celtics believed that it was easier for the Celitic priests, Druids, to make predictions about the future because those spirits were there. On the Samhain the Druids would make huge bonfires for Celtic people to sacrifice crops and animals to the Celtic deities. During this celebration and giving of the sacrifices, the people wore costumes, usually made of animal skins, and tried to predict one another’s future.

     When Halloween came to America it was not usually celebrated in the New England colonies because of their strict Protestantism. The southern colonies and Maryland were more likely to celebrate. Some of the first celebrations were “play parties” that were to celebrate the harvest. Activities of these “play parties” included: sharing stories of the dead, telling fortunes, dancing, singing, trouble-making, and telling of ghost stories. Halloween really started to kick up in the United States in the first half of the 1800s, mostly due to a bunch of immigrants, mixing the English Halloween and the Irish Halloween they made a whole new breed of Halloween. The immigrants I mentioned were mostly Irish coming to America to escape the potato famine of 1848. This new breed of Halloween was when Americans started dressing up in costumes and going from door to door asking for food or money, not candy yet.

     It was in the later half of the 1800s when many wanted to make Halloween into a community thing. Parties were the mosty common way to celebrate, parties included what almost every party has: food and games. And in this case, costumes. In the early 1900s it became a secular and community-based holiday. Then the holiday was just limited to children after a lot of vandalism and such.  Many activites happened in the the civic centers and such but during that era all the kids from the baby boom the civic centers couldn’t hold them all and the celebrations were moved into more of the homes and classrooms. We’re in the ’50s now and trick-or-treating has been changed from asking for food or money into a community thing for candy. Plus families of this era could help prevent tricks being played on them by providing small treats to the neighborhood kids. It was very cost effective too.

     Today’s Halloween is a mixture of everything, from the English we get the trick-or-treating practice. We get the costume-bit from Europeans and Celtics alike. We do the fun stuff and mostly for us kids, it’s all about the candy anyway. Most of us aren’t out there trying to please spirits or keep them away. And nobody, atleast nobody I’ve ever known, has told me that they dress up to trick the ghosts. 

Now enjoy these random and intresting, fun facts relating to Halloween:

 1/4 of all the candy sold anually in the U.S. is bought for Halloween.

The first jack ‘o’ lanterns were made from turnips, not pumpkins.

Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.

Boston, Massachusetts has the record for the most jack o’ lanterns lit at once(30,128).

Here’s an awesome Halloween quote: “If human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween.” -Doug Coupland

     I hope this post was lengthy enough to make up for my crappy short posts lately, like for the past month or so. Good news is I’m getting my laptop back, nice and fixed up, tomorrow so I should be able to post more, better, stuff. But don’t quote me on that. What did you think of this post?

P.S. I LOVE the first picture I used.    -hope you’re now informed, eshy,