Many people think of Halloween as an evil, devil-worshipping day. They will be surprised to learn the history of Halloween is religious in nature and not evil at all. The word Halloween comes from a combination of All Saint’s Day celebrated by the Catholics for honouring saints, and All Hallow’s Eve. While the history of Halloween has some roots in Catholicism, a group called the Celtics further extended the history and origins of Halloween.
The Celtics, sometimes called Druids, was a group who lived in Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom. The Celtics celebrated New Year’s Eve on October 31, with a festival called Shamain (pronounced sow-in). Shamain marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter which began on November 1. They believed the boundaries between the dead and living on earth became blurry and the dead souls may play tricks on people like destroying crops.
They felt the presence of spirits made it possible for the priests to predict the future. They wore costumes of animal heads and tried to tell one another’s future. Huge sacred bonfires were built where people burned crops and made animal sacrifices. After the celebrations, they rekindled the fires in their hearths at home. The fires supposedly protected them from the harsh winter ahead.
Modern Halloween celebrations vary greatly from ancient traditions but some similarities exist; like costumes and bonfires. The Irish brought modern Halloween practices to America in the mid-1800s. They named October 31 Mischief Night and played tricks on their friends. Pranks included tipping outhouses and opening gates. The mischief got blamed on fairies.
As for the history of the most popular Halloween activity – trick or treating – there are a few theories as to the origin. It is originally believed that trick or treating stemmed from a practice in the middle ages where poor people would go from door to door begging for food in exchange for prayers for the dead on All Hallow’s Day.
However, most scholars believe that trick or treating actually began in America during the 1930s. The practice of playing pranks had, by this time, become actually a little violent with some real destruction to property taking place.
One of the most prominent symbols of Halloween is the Jack O’ Lantern. Although there is a tradition in Great Britain and Ireland of carving a lantern from a rutabaga or turnip, the practice was first named and associated with Halloween in North America, where the pumpkin was available. American pumpkins were also larger and much easier to carve. Most families who celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their home’s doorstep after dark.
So as you may see, Halloween evolved from various cultures and folklore. Folks had different beliefs then. Halloween is regarded as Pagan and not evil. Halloween has become a form of entertainment these days. This article isn’t intended to be a religious debate. We hope it clarifies the myth that Halloween isn’t an evil day. It is humans who choose to make Halloween evil.
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