A History of Halloween

A History of Halloween

Like many of you I love Halloween, it’s my second favourite holiday and I celebrate it every year. I decorate the house and bake spooky treats, I went trick or treating as a child and now hand out the sweets to whoever comes to our door, I’ve been to Halloween parties and dressed up but something I’ve never really done is learn why. It only really occurred to me during Blogtober that I didn’t know when Halloween started or why we still celebrate it. So after going online and researching the history behind the holiday I thought I’d share with you what I’d learned, as I’m sure i’m not the only one who doesn’t know much about it’s origins.

Origins:

It is believed by historians that Halloween originated in what is now Ireland, Britain and Northern France with the Celtic pagan festival, Samhain, 2,000 years ago. The festival marked the end of the harvest season and the start of winter. They believed that the night before November 1st the boundary between the living and the dead were blurred and that ghosts returned to the earth to cause trouble and ruin crops. Bonfires were lit to ward off any evil spirits and crops and animals were burned as a sacrifice. They also wore costumes of animal skins and told fortunes.

Decades later when Christianity was believed to have  arrived in Britain so did the festival All Hallows Day. This festival was to remember those who had died for their beliefs. It is thought that pope Gregory moved the date of All Hallows Day from May 13th to November 1st to join together with the Celtic festival for a church approved celebration of the dead. The night before then became All Hallows Eve, which then later changed to Halloween, a night where the spirit world could make contact with the living.

Halloween in America:

I was always under the impression that Halloween was an American holiday. It seems to be celebrated a lot more there than in the UK.  It’s only been the last few years where it’s started to get bigger in the UK, with people decorating, shops stocking more Halloween themed products before Christmas and an increase in trick or treaters. While certain parts of American had autumn festivals Halloween didn’t arrive until the end of the nineteenth century. Millions of Irish people moved to America in 1846 due to the potato famine, bringing with them the Halloween traditions. Americans began to join in on the fun by dressing up in costumes and going to houses asking for food or money.

By the 1920’s Halloween had become more about community rather than superstition and religion. Parties for adults and children were thrown and town parades were the most common ways to celebrate. Halloween has since grown over the years with more activities and traditions being born. It is now the second biggest commercial holiday with Americans spending an estimated $6 billion each year on Halloween.

It’s a really fascinating holiday with a lot more history behind it than I had thought. There is so much information online about different theories on how the holiday began, but this was the most believed one. I hope you found this post interesting! I had a lot of fun researching Halloween and I’m glad that I’m now more informed and can understand why we celebrate it. I’d really appreciate it if you subscribed to my blog, it would make my day! You can also follow on me Instagram and Twitter and I will of course follow everyone back. Thanks for reading!

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