Halloween, A History

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bobbing for apples

It’s the day before All Hallow’s Eve, which makes today the Eve of All Hallow’s Eve! In this blog we discuss and write about mostly fashion related topics, but it’s important to discuss relevant topics like history as well. So, being that we are on the brink of a huge national holiday, why not take some time to learn about the origins of Halloween?!

The American holiday that we know as Halloween actually has European roots, dating back to Ireland and Scotland over two millenniums ago. Originally celebrated from Oct 31st –Nov 1st as a Celtic Festival, Samhain was a day to mark the beginning of the New Year and the end of the harvest.  It was believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead split on the night of October 31st, allowing spirits to roam among the living. To protect themselves from the evil spirits, the Celts lit protective bonfires and donned various disguises as not to be recognized by the ghosts.  Celtic priests believed the presence of the spirits increased their ability to foretell the future and read fortunes, and would leave food and drink next to the bonfires as a form of pacification/payment.

Several centuries later when the Celtics were all but ancient history, the tradition of Samhain was kept alive through the combination of popular Roman holidays, specifically Feralia (day of the dead) and Pomona (celebration of fruit).

revelation-all-saints-dayBetween 609 and 1000 AD the Catholic Church established their own form of celebration through the creation of All Saints Day and  All Souls Day. All Saints day (also known as All Hallows) was a celebration established on Nov 1st by the Catholic Church as a day to remember and celebrate all known and unknown Saints.All Souls day, celebrated the day after on November 2nd, was a day set aside to remember those who have passed on and pray for them (especially those in purgatory). All Saints day was also known as All-Hallows and All Souls Day as All-Hallows Eve.

Quick and Fun Facts about Halloween:

  • All Hallow’s and All Hallow’s Eve made its way to the New World (America) through the traditions of the early colonialists.
  • Trick-or-treating (also known as souling or guising) originated in Europe during the celebration of all Souls day, where beggars would go door-to-door, asking for food with the promise to pray for their benefactor’s deceased family members. Children eventually took over this practice, receiving treats or gifts instead of beggar’s rations.
  • Candy Corn was originally called chicken feed.
  • Jack O’Lanterns come from an Irish legend tells of  a man of questionable morals named Stingy Jack. Jack made a deal with the Devil to never reap his soul, while God refused to let a man of Jack’s character into Heaven;  with neither side able or willing to claim him, Stingy Jack was made to wander for all eternity. His only source of light came from a burning lump of coal place in a hollowed out turnip. To discourage Stingy Jack from coming to their door, Irish peasants would place hollowed out turnips or potatoes with carved faces out on their doorsteps. When Irish immigrants made their home in America, they found pumpkins to a preferable alternative to turnips.
  • Halloween is the second-largest grossed Holiday in the United States. Americans spend a projected 6 billion dollars on Halloween merchandise (candy, decorations, costumes, etc).

I hope you have enjoyed this little history lesson!

Have a Happy Halloween and be safe!

~Morgan

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