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Home > Article > History of Halloween Day
 
History of Halloween Day
 
 
Halloween is a tradition celebrated on the night of 31st of October, most notably by children dressing in costumes and going door-to-door collecting sweets and is celebrated in parts of the Western world.

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. Halloween which means All Hallows Eve or the night before All Hallows, has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries.

Hundreds of years ago in Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts who worshipped nature and had many gods. The Celts commemorated their New Year on 1st of November with a festival and marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold."

On 31st of October, after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes were extinguished. The Celtic priests lighted new fires and offered sacrifices of crops and animals. When the morning arrived they gave the hot coals from their fires to each family who then took them home to start new cooking fires. These fires kept the homes warm and free from evil spirits.

The next day, the Celts celebrated the 1st of November festival which was called Samhain and lasted for 3 days. They paraded in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals.

When Romans invaded Britain on the first century, they brought many festivals and customs. One of these festivals was Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens, which was also celebrated around the 1st of November.

Later, with the spread of the new Christian religion throughout Europe and Britain, in the year 835 AD, the Roman Catholic Church stated the 1st of November as a church holiday to honor all the saints which was called All Saint's Day, Hallowmas, or All Hallows. Years later, the Church stated the 2nd of November as a holy day to honor the dead which was called All Souls Day. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils.

But the spread of Christian religion did not make people forget their early customs. On the eve of All Hallows, 31st of October, people continued to commemorate the festivals of Samhain. Then, the 31st of October became known as All Hallow Even, All Hallow's Eve, Hallowe’en, and later known as Halloween.

The Halloween which people celebrate today includes all of these influences, Pomona Day's apples, nuts, and harvest, the Festival of Samhain's black cats, magic, evil spirits and death, and the ghosts, skeletons and skulls from All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day.

Following are the customs on Halloween Day:
Trick or Treat
The custom of trick or treating probably has several origins. During Samhain, the Celtics priests believed that the dead played tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so people gave the Celtics priests food as they visited their homes
 
Jack O’Lanterns
In Ireland and Scotland, people used to carve scary faces into turnips or potatoes and light them for their Halloween gatherings. They commemorated Jack, a shifty Irish villain so wicked that neither God nor the Devil wanted him. Rejected by both the sacred and profane, he wandered the world endlessly looking for a place to rest, his only warmth a glittering candle in a rotten turnip.

They brought the Jack O’Lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States and soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect Jack O’Lanterns.
 
Halloween Masquerade Mask
From earliest times, people wore masks when dry season or other disasters struck. They believed that the demons who had brought their misfortune upon them would become frightened off by the hideous masks.
 
The Witch’s Broomstick
The witch is a central symbol of Halloween. Some witches rode on horseback, but poor witches went on foot and carried a broom or a pole to aid in vaulting over streams.
 
Bobbing for Apples
Many rituals of Roman origin began when Romans invaded the Celts. Among them was the worship of Pomona, goddess of the harvest. Apples were the sacred fruit of the goddess.
 
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