Halloween. A day celebrated around the country for…wait why do we celebrate it?

Lillian Przbyl

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Halloween wasn’t always a day where kids dress up and go get free candy, many aspects of today’s Halloween does show similarities with ancient rituals, but are still very different.

Halloween practice date back around 2,000 years ago from an ancient society called the Celts. They referred to October 31st as Samhain (Pronounced Sow-in) instead of Halloween. They were located in current-day UK, and Ireland. To the Celts, they believed the year ended in November first. October 31st marked the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of winter. Before modern-day medicine, winters brought death and suffering. 

As believed by the Celts, on the final day of the year, the barrier between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. Spirits would then be able to pass through this blurred vail and wreak havoc upon towns. People would burn crops and animals in sacrifice to ward off these spirits. During the ritual, people would wear animal carcass as a mask to hide from spirits. Hence, where costumes came from. 

Trick or treating is much more recent compared to Samhain. In ancient times, people would go from parish to parish asking for food in return for prayer for the dead. This activity was practiced during Samhain times. Instead of leaving out bowls of candy, people would leave out soul-cakes as a sign that the family was asking for prayer. 

Trick or treating as its known today wasn’t introduced into modern American culture until the 1900s. The earliest printed record is from around 1920. In the 30s it began popping up in newspaper articles. In the 1950s the popularity boomed when it was used in a Peanuts comic strip before truly blowing up and becoming part of popular culture in the 1950s.

I’m not sure how you’ll be spending Halloween this year. Whether it’s trick or treating or worshiping pagan goods via bonfires, not my place to judge. Either way, happy Halloween everyone. 

 

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