We all like to celebrate Halloween now. But do all of us know how this celebration appeared? What’s its history? Why is it celebrated on this particular day? And why do we wear scary costumes and give away candies? Let’s find the answers to all these questions now!
Back in the times of the ancient Celts, people who lived in today’s United Kingdom, Ireland and northern France celebrated the festival of Samhain. It marked the beginning of a new year in their culture and was celebrated on November 1. The summer and harvest time would end by this day and the cold days would begin. Celts associated this time with human death. On the night before the new year, the boundary between our world and the world of the dead would become blurred. To help Druids make predictions for the future, Celts would burn bonfires and wear animal skins and heads (to avoid being recognized by the ghosts and make them think that they’re their fellow spirits).
When the Roman Empire conquered the Celtic territory, obviously, their cultures mixed. The Romans also had their own celebration in late October that was called Feralia. It was the commemoration of the dead. In the 9th century, when Christianity spread to the Celtic lands, the Christian All Saints’ Day (celebrated on November 2) blended with the Celtic customs as it had similar celebration traditions. These traditions included holding parades, burning bonfires, and wearing the costumes of angels, demons and saints. Back then, the celebration was called All-hallowmas and the day before it was called All-hallows Eve, which eventually turned into Halloween.
Halloween in America
Slowly but surely, Halloween started becoming a traditional celebration on the American continent, too. People would celebrate the harvest, tell stories about the dead, tell fortunes, sing, and dance. In mid-19th century, the celebration was common, but not all over the country. In the late 19th century, when new immigrants came, it finally became a national holiday. English and Irish people brought the tradition to wear costumes and ask for money or food (which we now know as “trick-or-treat”). And finally, all Americans liked the festive costumes, as well as games and stories about the celebration. Halloween began to be celebrated all over the country. Today, Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in the USA.