Once every year we get to celebrate the candy filled holiday of Halloween. This Wednesday students will dress up, visit a few haunted houses, and maybe even go trick or treating, but what’s the real story behind this holiday and its traditions?
Halloween likely originated over in Europe from celebrations such as the Festival of the Dead and the Celtic holiday Samhain, or “Summers End”.
Like the Mexican holiday El Dia de Los Muertos, Samhain celebrated the return of the dead to Earth, along with the end of the harvest season. During the celebration there was a lot of fortune telling, bomb fires, and animal sacrifices, to get ready for the new year. People even wore masks and hoods to disguise themselves from spirits who returned to Earth to take revenge. This is possibly where Halloween costumes were derived from.
Halloween also partly came from the Christian celebration of All Saints Day. This day was originally celebrated in May, but was later switched to the same day as the Celtic holiday. We call it Halloween because it falls on All Hallows Eve, the night of the Christian feast of All Hallows. However, some Christian denominations are against the celebration/practices on Halloween because they feel it is Pagan and Occultic.
The United States didn’t partake in the holiday until immigrants such as the Irish started coming to the country in the 19th century. Overtime Halloween had lost a lot of its religious influence, but some still believe souls can come back on this day.
Some superstitions include black cats and cracked mirrors. A superstition once believed is that women could see visions of their future husbands on this night, whether it be in a dream or in a mirror by candle light. Some even threw apple peels behind them hoping it would spell out their future lover’s initial.
A tradition we have kept, Trick or Treating, is thought to have originated in the middle ages, when the poor would beg for food and were given “soul cakes” in exchange for prayers for the family’s dead relatives. Also pumpkin carving probably came from the Celtics. They used to carve turnips to use as lanterns and to ward off evil spirits.THS has its own traditions it partakes in every year, including Halloween Rooms and the Tiny Tigers preschoolers trick or treating throughout the class rooms.
Another symbol we often associate with Halloween is a full moon. The moon is thought to be very magical and spiritual, and to have strange influence on people. This year’s October full moon is just two days before Halloween, on the 29th. It could be a sign that the dead are returning and to beware. The October moon has a number of different names, including the Hunters moon, Harvest moon, and Blood moon. We won’t see a full moon on the exact date of Halloween until 2014.
Make sure to enjoy everything from the haunted houses to the crazy costumes this Halloween, even if you think you’re too grown up. But remember, these aren’t the only things this holiday is all about!