Halloween History and Origin
The word “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows‘ Evening“, the eve of “All Saints’ Eve. Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was celebrated annually on October 31st to honor the dead. Samhain signifies “summers end” or November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration were fed on superstition.
In early November, there was not a lot to do agriculturally, and so a rather gloomy phase of daily life began. It was believed that at that time, the boundaries between the living and the dead lay close together. The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. Since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil and ensure that next years crops would be plentiful.
In order to protect themselves from evil spirits, they would disguise themselves with fearsome masks and costumes and place hollowed out, lighted pumpkins, the so-called “Jack-O-Lantern” as a guard against evil spirits in front of their houses.
The Irish brought the Halloween tradition with them to America, when they emigrated between 1845-1852 during the famine, when hundreds and thousands of them fled their homes.
Soon the custom was adopted and celebrated by children of other immigrants and quickly became a very popular festivity.
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