The History of Halloween

A Brief Run-Down of Everyone’s Favorite Holiday

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With October rapidly approaching, and the long, hot, days of summer finally coming to an end, it can only mean one thing: Halloween season is upon us. Personally, October is my favorite month of the year, and Halloween is my favorite holiday. It could be something about the fresh fall air, or the family traditions that I look forward to every year, but the season never fails to deliver a magical ambience. Halloween yields countless festive activities, from dressing up and carving pumpkins, to bravely venturing through haunted houses. Yet, I wonder when, where, and why, all of these great festivities came to be?

The first ever recorded celebration of a form of Halloween was within the ancient Celtic people. The Celtics live in present-day Ireland, and each year, they would partake in a festival called Samhain. In this festival, the people would dress up in horrifying costumes as to scare off evil spirits or ghosts in the area. They would dance around huge bonfires in these costumes, and practiced this tradition annually. Samhain typically took place on November 1st, and marked their new year, and the end of the summer season. The people believed that scaring off the spirits would lead to prosperous crops and religious purity.

All Saints’ Day was soon created by Pope Gregory III. As a leader in the Christian church, Gregory III felt that a day should be put aside to honor saints, and decided that this day should be the first of November. The night before All Saints’ Day, October 31st, was deemed All Hallows Eve. All Hallows Eve was a major influence for what would soon be called Halloween. Many traditions that we still hold to this day, including carving pumpkins and dressing up, were parts of the All Hallows Eve routine.

As the popularity of Halloween began to grow, it ventured into the Americas. First arriving in the early colonial era, the strictly religious and Protestant colonies were heavily cautious of the holiday. Halloween tended to prosper more in the southern colonies. Unsurprisingly, the spread of Halloween lent itself to be subject to evolution. As Native Americans and different European groups inserted aspects of their own cultures into the holiday, Halloween eventually came to be as we know it today.

Over time, Halloween has gone from an annual ritual meant to keep away evil spirits to a night of fun where spirits are invited by mischievous children, and families are able to spend a night of spooky fun with one another. It is only natural to wonder how Halloween came to be, and after discovering how it was orchestrated, I have come to be grateful of those who came before us, those who used their personal beliefs and cultures to create an eclectic holiday that became a collective of tradition and fun, all with a meaningful story to support its unique design.