Halloween... the origins

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by Ram74
Last updated 6 years ago

Social Studies
World Culture

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Halloween... the origins


Halloween traces back to the old Celtic festival of Samhain.The Celts from Britain and Ireland saw in the start of the New Year on November 1, All Souls Day. The day marked the end of summer and the harvest.The Celts believed that on October 31, the worlds of the living and dead overlapped before the start of the New Year. October 31 became All Hallows Eve, a time when the ghosts of the dead could return to destroy the harvest that was stored for winter. People set bonfires on hilltops to keep the evil spirits away before the start of winter.

Jack‐o’‐Lanterns There are many legends surrounding the Jack‐o’‐Lantern and where the name comes from. People believed that carving scary faces onto turnips would frighten away evil spirits. In America the tradition changed to pumpkins because they were easier to find and to carve.

Witches, Ghosts and SkeletonsThe ideas of death and evil spirits at All Hallows Eve led to the use of skeleton and ghost images at Halloween. The interest in witches came to America from Europe, and combined with Native American beliefs in evil spirits. Both fit with the spooky themes of October 31.

Trick or Treat?Trick‐or‐treating may have also come from the Celts. Poor children in Britain and Ireland went door‐to‐door on All Hallows Eve. They were given food in exchange for promising to pray for dead relatives on All Saints Day.

CostumesDuring the Samhain festival, people wore masks so that evil spirts could not see them. Wearing costumes at Halloween took off in the United States with the rise of trick‐or‐ treating. Early reports of costumes date to the 1930s.

The origins


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