Halloween: Origins and Current Traditions

Halloween: Origins and Current Traditions

Americanism: Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

American colonists are responsible for initially bringing Halloween to the United States. Most of the colonists were Puritans and they primarily came from England which traditionally celebrated Samhain back when the Celts lived there. Although the Celtic religious traditions had been long replaced by Christianity, many of the old practices remained. However, since the American Colonies were influenced by a variety of cultures, Halloween traditions began to change. In the New World, All Hallow’s Eve became a time for “play parties”, which were private parties thrown to celebrate the harvest. People would dress in costumes, read each other’s fortunes, and tell scary stories. These were amongst the first Halloween parties!

Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.

So…Are you ready to celebrate Halloween? Who do you plan to be?