Do you celebrate Halloween?
I know it’s a big thing in the USA and to a lesser extent we in the UK celebrate it too, but what is Halloween and where did it come from? I’ve been doing a bit of research to find out what it’s all about.
Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world and is thought to have evolved from a pre-Christian festival called Samhain which was celebrated over 2,000 years ago. Samhain was celebrated by the Celts (people who lived in what is now the UK, Ireland and northern France) on 31st October each year. They believed that the dead returned to earth on this day.
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In latter times, Halloween has been interpreted to be the evening before All Hallows’ Day which is also known as All Saints or Hallowmas and is celebrated on 1st November, and All Souls Day which is celebrated by Christians on 2nd November. Thus, the name Halloween comes from the full name All Hallows’ Eve meaning the evening before All Hallows Day.
Trick or Treating has its origins in ancient practices called souling and guising. In the Middle Ages in Britain, poor people would go souling on Hallowmas, 31st October which basically meant they would ask for food in exchange for saying prayers for the dead on All Souls Day which is 2nd November.
It was the Scots who first wore costumes, masks or other disguises on Hallowmas. The children believed that dressing like the evil spirits would prevent the spirits from harming them as they would mistake them for one of their own. this was known as guising.
The children would carry lanterns made out of hollow turnips from house to house asking for treats such as cakes, fruit or money.
It is thought that immigrants took the traditions to North America in the early 20th century but the term “trick or treat” appeared in print first in Canada in 1927. There doesn’t seem to be any information on why that particular term came into existence.
Most of us will associate orange and black as the colours of Halloween. We see pumpkins and black cats and witches hats. But why these colours, where did that come from?
Orange is an Autumn colour and associated with harvests. Black is associated with death. It is thought that the Romans, on conquering Britain, joined two of their festivals together, one to celebrate the harvests called Paloma, and the other to honour their dead called Feralia and these Roman festivals replaced Samhain and the colours were adopted.
As already mentioned, the Scots were the first ones to wear costumes and masks on Halloween but did you know that native Americans bought the “face painting” element to the proceedings?
These days you are likely to see all manner of fire-men, pop stars or football players out on Halloween as the costumes have come to reflect the pop culture of today. But this was not what Halloween costumes were meant to be.
The idea of wearing a costume, or more usually a mask, was so that you were not recognised by a spirit or the ghost of a dead relative if you were out on All Hallows Eve.
Traditionally costumes were hand made and this is still the case in a lot of households. But if you are not particularly creative or are not good with a needle and thread there are plenty of other options for you today.
You can choose from a wide range of Halloween costumes on Amazon such as this, old favourite, headless man. There’s nothing like an old classic is there?
So there you have it, Halloween in a nutshell, so to speak. Now you can go out and celebrate with an amazing costume that you haven’t had to spend hours making, and you’ll know what it’s all about won’t you?
I hope you have enjoyed this post and the fun facts about Halloween. If you have then it would be great if you could share it with others. I have included some popular share icons so please just click away.
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