Halloween is a holiday filled with many traditions, celebrations and superstitions. Scary movies, carving pumpkins, haunted houses and dressing up in costume are some of the things that come to mind when you think of Halloween. Many people love Halloween, but where did this holiday come from and how did the traditions that we have today develop?
The History of Halloween
Halloween is celebrated on October 31st, which is the last day of the Celtic calendar. Originally a pagan holiday which honors the dead, Halloween, formerly known as All Hallows’ Eve, dates back to over 2,000 years ago. All Hallows’ Eve is the night before the All Saints’ Day, created by Christians to try and convert pagans and is celebrated on November 1st.
The culture of Halloween traces back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. These roots trace back to Samhain which means “summer’s end.” Samhain is a festival with huge sacred bonfires that mark the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of a new one.
It was believed by the Celts that souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages during the night. And because not all spirits were thought to be friendly, they left out gifts and treats as offerings and to pacify the evil to ensure that the following year’s crops would be good. This is how the custom evolved into trick-or-treating.
The Start of Halloween Costumes
During the pagan festivals, costumes were used to hide someone’s attendance or to change the personality of the wearer in order to communicate with the spirit world. Costumes were also worn to try and ward off any evil spirits. Some Celtic Druid participants would wear masks of animal heads and the skins in order to acquire the strength of that particular animal.
Irish and English immigrants came to the United States during the mid-1800s and brought Halloween and their traditions with them.
Halloween Costumes Today
Dressing up in costume allows for an opportunity and idea to be someone else for the night. People today find fun in pretending to be someone else and carry on the halloween costume tradition that was created. A tradition that began with frightening and scary costumes has evolved over time to a wide variety of almost anything. From dressing up as your favorite superhero or matching couple costumes, costumes continue to develop with the changing times and latest trends.