Halloween has been around for many years and evolved now into a public holiday in some countries. Around 2500 years ago a festival called Samhain was celebrated by the Celts. At that time the geography of the world was pretty different and evolution over the years created what we now call Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France.
On 31 October Samhain was celebrated to end the summer and to finish the harvest season. The Celts believed that from the 1st of November the dark side of life was opened and the world would be visited by unheavenly spirits, spirits that would cause more harm than good. Some, known in particular as the Druids, would capture this time to embrace the spirits to help with predictions.
The Druids created massive bonfires, got dressed up in costumes made up from animal skin and their heads, and made sacrifices of crops and animals to the fire. All this was done to protect themselves for the coming months.
Through the evolution of time and as people immigrated into other areas of the world the tradition and belief in Halloween were carried on and shared by many other people. Probably the most evident is in America where Halloween is hugely celebrated and is now a national festive holiday.
A Short History Of Halloween
Its origins date back to the Celts, more than 2500 years ago, when the Celtic year ended at the end of summer, on October 31 of our calendar (Samhain). Cattle were brought from the meadows to the stables for the winter. On that last day, spirits were supposed to come out of cemeteries and seize the bodies of the living to resurrect, ask for food, and curse them. They made them victims of spells if they did not agree to their requests: give me something or I will do mischief, which is the translation of “Trick or Treat” (Trick or Treat).
To avoid this, the Celtic villages littered the houses and “decorated” them with bones, skulls, and other unpleasant things, so that the dead passed by in fear. Hence the tradition of decorating houses with sinister motifs on the current All Saints’ Eve and also the costumes. It is thus a festival associated with the coming of the pagan gods to life.
The church of Rome decided to convert the holiday to Catholicism. It was instituted on November 1 as All Saints’ Day, which in England was called “All Hallows’ Day”, and the night before “All Hallows’ Eve” which later became “Halloween.”
The festival was exported to the United States by European emigrants in the 19th century, around 1846. However, it did not begin to be celebrated massively until 1921. That year the first Halloween parade was celebrated in Minnesota and then other states followed. The internationalization of Halloween occurred in the late 70s and early 80s thanks to cinema and television series.
Nowadays, children dress up for the occasion and walk the streets asking for sweets from door to door. After knocking on the door, the children say the phrase “Trick or treat.” If the adults give them candy, money, or any other type of reward, it is interpreted that they have accepted the deal. If on the contrary, they refuse, the boys will play a little prank on them.
Halloween is a holiday based on fear, death, the walking dead, black magic, and mystical monsters. Commonly associated “characters” with Halloween include ghosts, witches, black cats, goblins, banshees, zombies, and demons, as well as certain literary figures such as Dracula and the Frankenstein monster.
The Celts used to disguise themselves with animal skins on October 31 and thus not be discovered by the spirits who, according to them, would come to life that night. Hence the current custom of dressing up that day. The traditional colors of Halloween are black at night and orange at the first light of day. Halloween symbols also include autumn elements such as pumpkins and scarecrows.