By Elaina Pagliasotti
It’s that time of year once again. The neighbors are hanging ghosts from trees and stringing orange lights from the roof. The stores have put out the Halloween stuff…and the Christmas stuff. In just a few days, the streets will be crawling with mini ghosts and ghouls impatiently running from house to house, hoping to get their sticky little paws on some candy. Maybe you are one of those kids. Nevertheless, October 31st is a holiday for dressing up and gorging on sweets, or so we thought.
Believe it or not, Halloween wasn’t always about candy and costumes. It originated over 2,000 years ago in Europe by the Celts as a celebration called Samhain. Samhain was a festival at the end of the Summer when people believed the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead were thin. People lit huge bonfires in an attempt to keep the dead at bay so they would not interact with the living.
When the Catholic religion became more relevant in Europe, it frowned upon these pagan rituals. They decided to combine it with a more acceptable celebration called All Saints Day, or Hallowmas. All Saints Day celebrated the martyrs and saints in the Catholic religion. The night before this festival was known as All Hallows Eve, which is how we got the name, Halloween.
When Irish immigrants came to North America during the potato famines of the 1840s, they brought with them many traditions, Hallowmas included. In North America, it took on a slightly different meaning, however. Kids disguised with masks and costumes would go around their neighborhood and play pranks on their neighbors. Some of these pranks included knocking over outhouses and removing gates from houses.
During the 1930s, this tradition started to get out of hand. Childrens’ simple tricks morphed into straight out vandalism, so people started giving out treats and candies in hopes that kids wouldn’t trash their house. Hence the saying, trick or treat.
Modern day Halloween is seen mostly as a day to dress up and eat a lot of sugar. While costumes used to be made out of straw and or real animal bones, we’ve updated them quite a bit since then. Some of the most popular costumes, according to Time.com, include Fortnite, Harley Quinn, or staples like princess, witch, and superhero.
Halloween is going to be on Wednesday, October 31st this year. Here are a couple of ways to spend this spooky holiday:
- Host a Halloween themed movie marathon (Nightmare Before Christmas, anyone?)
- Go trick-or-treating (no, you’re not too old, yet)
- Carve a pumpkin
- Visit a haunted house (the scarier the better)
- Eat candy (obviously)
- Dress up!
- Go to the Halloween dance! (in case you forgot, it’s the 25th from 6-9pm)
So go out this Halloween a little more informed about one of America’s favorite holidays. Be safe, don’t get sick on candy, and have fun!