The History of Halloween!

We all know Halloween as the October 31st celebration of trick-or-treating, costumes, cool weather, and pumpkins! Even still, a lot of us growing up remember being taught that Halloween was evil, maybe not even being allowed to engage in the festivities. The ghouls and goblins may be off putting, but it is a time period to honor those who have passed on. It's actually, kind of beautiful and uplifting!

The first instance of Halloween goes all the way back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), celebrated November 1st. This was their New Year, marking the end of both summer and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark period of the year. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the veil between the physical and spiritual world became blurred. They believed the presence of otherworldly spirits brought good fortune and the ability to predict upcoming events. So the Celts wore costumes, gave sacrifices to their deities, danced around bonfires, and told each others fortunes.

Soon, thanks to the Roman Empires influence, Samhain became combined with two other festivals: the first being Feralia, the Roman day of the dead, and the other to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Since her symbol is the apple, its a good chance that the halloween tradition of bobbing for apples is connected to this goddess.

When Christianity and Celtic customs merged, All-Hallowmas was born. In 1000 A.D., the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. They wanted to replace the Celtic traditions with a Church-focused holiday. All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. AllHallowmas consists of All Saint's Eve (or All Hallows Eve), All Saints Day (Hallows Day) and All Souls Day, celebrated October 31 to November 2nd. All Hallows Eve eventually became shortened to Halloween.

Halloween found its way to America through, of course, immigration.The first celebrations included “play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. They also featured the telling of ghost stories and playing pranks on others. We still celebrate this way today!

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