History of Halloween

halloween-aaaBy: Octavio Gallardo

Everyone has their own beliefs on what Halloween means to them such as Andrea Gallardo a tenth grader who believes, “Halloween is a time when I get to dress as who I want to be and eat candy all night long”.

Daniela Ramos a senior has her own thoughts on the origins of halloween, “It started with witches doing witch stuff and it continued till Halloween today”.

The actual origins of halloween dates back 2,000 years ago, with the Celts who celebrated their new years on November 1. November 1 marked the start of a cold, dark winter typically associated with death. The Celts believed that the day before new years marked the merging of the two worlds, the living and the dead. They celebrated Samhain on October 31, when they believed ghost returned to earth which made it easier for Celtic priest to make predictions about the future according to their lore. During Samhain the Celts would wear costumes with animal heads and skins, attempt to tell each other’s fortunes and create huge bonfires to burn crops and animals as sacrifices.

The Roman empire conquered most of Celtic territory by 43 A.D. By the 9th century the Roman culture blended with the Celtic culture causing the church in 1,000 A.D, to name November 2, All Soul’s Day where they would honor the dead. This celebration was an attempt to replace the Samhain celebration with one more closely connected to the Roman church. All Soul’s Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with parades, bonfires and dressing up in costumes but instead of animals they would dress up as saints, angels and devils. All Soul’s Day was also called All-Hallows or All-Hallowmas. The actual Celtic Samhain celebration began to be called All-Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween.

An American version of Halloween began to emerge when the European ethnic groups and American Indian, ideas and beliefs merged. The first celebrations includes story telling of ghost and the dead, telling each other’s fortunes, dancing and signing. During the middle of nineteenth century halloween was still not celebrated throughout the whole country. New incoming immigrants in 1846 due to the potato famine helped popularize Halloween in ghostAmerica. Eventually Americans would dress up and go from house to house to ask for food or money which eventually became the tradition of Trick Or Treating.          

In the late 1800’s a move to create halloween into a community holiday was created. Leaders were encouraged to get rid of anything fighting out of halloween celebrations, thus ending most of the superstitious and religious associations with Halloween. Eventually American Halloween became a community holiday with parades, costumes and parties. Vandalism also began to rise during Halloween celebrations. Trick Or Treating reemerge during this time as an inexpensive way to contribute to the celebration and families could also prevent vandalism to their homes by providing neighborhood children with small treats. This new American tradition was born and has continued to grow.


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