When we think of Halloween, thoughts of kids dressing in costumes, trick or treating for mountains of candy bars, black and orange paraphernalia, jack-o-lanterns, ghost stories, wicked witches, bobbing for apples, and black cats are just few of the many things that come to mind. But how did these symbols and activities become synonymous with Halloween? How did they start?
The origins of Halloween can be traced back all the day to ancient Celtic times with the celebration of Samhain, the day when the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth. When the Romans conquered England and Scotland, a mesh of cultures combined. The Roman’s Christian influence changed the pagan holiday into a religious one. Now the ghosts were of Christian Saints and Martyrs and the name was now All Hallows’ Eve.
Although it was celebrated all throughout Europe, Halloween didn’t pick up popularity in America until the late 1800s. When the potato famine broke out in Ireland in 1846, many immigrants came to the United States bringing with them the tradition of Halloween and trick or treating. As time progressed Halloween started to become a more secular holiday with a focus on parties rather than discussing the dead. In the 1950s, Halloween became a town wide event that brought the community together.
Although it is a joyous holiday, it’s important to stay safe when trick or treating. Children are encouraged to use flashlights while trick or treating especially when it gets dark. And it’s wise to keep an extra set of batteries on hand as well. Also it’s wise of parents to inspect the candy to make sure it has not be tampered with before the children eat it Also if your child has a food allergy, reading the ingredients is also important.
Although it has changed drastically, some of the ancient traditions can still be found in modern times. The tradition of wearing a costume stems from the days when early Celts would disguise themselves because they were afraid that the ghosts would recognize them. Children still wear all different kinds of costumes.
What started as a religious holiday has now turned into a popular secular holiday that is loved by children and by adults.