The History of Halloween

By Nina Combs 

When someone says Halloween, most people think of trick or treating, witches, skeletons, or the song Thriller but the festival of Halloween runs deeper than the plastic decorations and sweet candy corn that many have come to love. Halloween was a tradition that originally stemmed from the Celts that lived in both ancient Britain and Ireland. Here the original name for the festival was known as Samhain. The festival was said to be a time where the souls of the dead would come back to revisit their homes and their loved ones. As tender as that notion may be many people were frightened of this idea of roaming souls and lit bonfires around the villages to keep off the evil spirits that came with them. The fires still, were not enough for the Celts and for good measure people dressed up as fairies, witches, and in other generic costumes that are found partying on the dark streets of October 31st. People dressed themselves up like this in hopes of blending in with the evil spirits. Not only did the people dress up and light bonfires, but they also left baskets of goods on their doorsteps for the roaming souls which ended up leading to the tradition of trick or treating. Like the Samhain, the Day of the Dead is also a spiritual celebration. The Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico, is a festival in honor of the night when dead souls can cross the bridge between the afterlife and the mortal world. People put out bundles of food and flowers and decorate themselves in colorful skeletons in excitement for the coming of their lost loved ones. Colorfully vibrant parades are still held, depicting of dancing skeletons and floral detailed floats again, in honor of the returning souls. As Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family Halloween is the holiday for celebrating superstitions. Have you ever heard of the rumor that if you saw a black cat cross the street at night it was bad luck? Or, if you break a mirror you are cursed for seven years? It was bad luck to see a black cat cross the street because during the middle ages it was believed that persecuted witches would turn themselves into black cats to escape from the burning deaths that awaited them. Halloween was not only a time for superstition but also a time for fortune telling and the most common fortunes were about marriage. According to women used to throw apple peels over their shoulder, and it was said that the peels would be in the shape of the first initial of the name of their future husband. Some other fortune telling was, it was said that women would drink sweet liquids before bed, and it would make them dream about their future husbands and another was in Ireland during the 18th century where even cooks were said to have even hidden rings in their dishes in hopes of bringing together a happy couple. Halloween has become an evolved festival that has wrapped around the adrenaline of horror and gory make up, but the soul of Halloween will always live through the spooky traditions of ghostly tales of roaming souls. Let it be told that new superstitions will be created to worry the future souls that celebrate this mysterious holiday. Happy Halloween! 

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