Falling between Autumn and Winter, History of Halloween ( All Hallows Eve, Al Hallows Evening ) is a celebration of superstition with costumes, gatherings and lots of sweet treats!
It began as the festival of Samhain and was part of the ancient Celtic religion in Britain and other parts of Europe. At the end of summer it was thought that the barrier between our world and the world of ghosts and spirits thinned. This enabled weird creatures with strange powers to wander about on Earth. The Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.
Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs. The holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, this evolved into a community-based event characterised by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating.
Today’s Halloween Traditions.
The American History of Halloween 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 distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighbourhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. 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 recognised 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 History of Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.
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