The evolution of Halloween

The evolution of Halloween

Ava Gjertsen, Editor

For centuries, Halloween has been celebrated and enjoyed by many people. However, have you ever wondered why that is? Or how Halloween even became a holiday? A lot of folks have only viewed it as a festive day to dress up, collect candy, and experience a joyful time. Of course, there’s much more to the history than that. With that being said, here’s the origin of the beloved spooky holiday. 

The beginning of Halloween dates way back to a festival known as Samhain. The people behind this (the Celtics) would light fires and dress up in costumes to fend off spirits. In modern days, it has been  turned into a celebration to mark the end of harvest season and the start of winter. This festival is on November 1, but the festivities begin on October 31, as the Celtic day began. Samhain is based on a pagan religion and people believe this day breaks the barrier between humans and spirits, allowing them to interact together. Essentially, it has lots to do with spirituality. 

After Romans took over most Celtic territory, they combined their traditions with Samhain. The day was named Ferali, and participants would place offerings and gifts on the graves of their deceased loved ones to honor the dead. The following day was Pomona, a Roman goddess who the Romans would honor on this date. Pomona’s symbol was an apple, and they related this by creating the Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples. However, on May 13, 609 A.D, Pope Boniface IV changed the Roman day for all Christian martyrs. It was later expanded into a day of commemorating all saints of the church, known or not, most commonly called All Saints Day, though it goes by many names, such as Hallow’s Day, Hallowmas, or Feast of All Saints. It truly did take many turns after being claimed by the Romans. 

Once immigrants began to arrive in America in the 1840s, so did their traditions. The first celebration was known as “play parties,” which included public events to celebrate harvest. Civilians would share stories of the deceased, as well as dance and sing with one another. By the nineteenth century, the United States was filled with immigrants. These immigrants, especially Irish ones fleeing the potato famine, helped give attention to celebrating Halloween. Taking traditions from European countries, Americans began dressing up and going from door to door requesting food or some money, which would later evolve into the infamous “trick or treat” tradition. People wished to take the more spiritual/scary aspects out of the day, and it is less religious than it once was. Nowadays, it’s one of the most superstitious and beloved holidays.