The history of Halloween

By on November 7, 2002

Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays and is celebrated annually on Oct. 31 here in the United States.
The origins of the holiday of Halloween dates back many years ago to the country of Ireland.
The holiday first began in Ireland as a celebration of the New Year. It is still celebrated there to this very day.
Halloween began as a Celtic tradition and there are many different stories behind its supposed meaning. Some are believed more than others.
One story about Halloween from the Celtic time says that on Halloween, the spirits of all of the people who died during the prior year would come back.
These spirits came in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.
In Ireland, Halloween is still celebrated just as much as it is in the United States. In parts of Ireland, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts, and children get dressed up in creative costumes and go trick-or-treating at night.
Later in the evening, some people go to parties with family and friends to celebrate the holiday.
One of the games played at these parties is called “snap-apple.” This is a game in which the players attempt to bite a hanging apple.
At these parties there are also treasure hunts in which the “treasure” is some sort of candy.
A traditional food typically eaten in Ireland on Halloween is barnbrack, which is a kind of fruitcake. This cake is said to be able to tell the eater’s future by the object that is found inside the cake. For example, finding a piece of straw inside the cake can mean that a good year is ahead.
Halloween was brought to America in 1840, when Irish immigrants came to America to flee from the potato famine in Ireland.
The idea of the jack-o-lantern is also rooted deep in Irish history.
However, the concept of trick-or-treating is not thought to be an Irish tradition. Instead, it supposedly comes from a ninth century European tradition called “souling.”
Christians would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes.” The more they received, the more prayers they would say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. This would allow the people’s souls to pass on to heaven.
Although some may think Halloween is a wicked holiday, the day itself did not grow out of evil practices.
Halloween grew out of the rituals of Irish Celts celebrating a new year. Here in America, we celebrate the holiday of Halloween with the colors of black and orange.
We carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and go trick-or-treating wearing elaborate costumes to celebrate the holiday.
Halloween is only as haunting as you choose to make it.


About Erica Morrison - Staff Writer