Fall is upon us once again and Halloween is just around the corner. Unfortunately, Halloween happens to fall on Monday this year, but if history repeats itself, this should be of little concern to those loyal Halloween lovers. The tricks and treats will no doubt continue. The teenagers with pillowcases will be out there filling them with entire bowls of candy, despite the “Please Take One” label. Surely someone is to blame or rather to thank for providing us with an opportunity to celebrate such time-honored festivities.
We can start by thanking the Celts who lived 2,000 years ago and, according to the History Channel, used to celebrate their new year on November 1. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred.
On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated Nov. 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, was then called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, became Halloween.
The American tradition of trick-or-treating probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called soul cakes, in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits
In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft.
At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day
Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday. So, whether your vice is sugar or alcohol go out and enjoy Halloween for old times sake, and of course, do it safely.