Halloween – A brief history

Jack O Lantern, candles

Halloween is a very old ritual beginning in the fifth century BC. The Celts during this period believed that the souls of their ancestors would come back on October 31 to reincarnate in another body. Many people would flee their homes during this day in order to reach safety, but the people that stayed home would dress in ghoulish outfits to scare away the invaders. This ritual was called “Samhain;” The Celtic new year.

Beginning on October 31 and ending on November 1, the Celts would turn off their fires, making their houses cold and undesirable. If someone was believed to be possessed he would be burned alive as a lesson for the spirits.

The word Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” which was a Catholic day used to honor the saints. When the Romans invaded Britain, Ireland and Scotland; Samhain was gradually adopted by the Romans who combined it with other traditions that happened in October. Such an assimilation occurred with the Roman’s day to honor Pomona–goddess of fruits and trees.

Samhain suffered many changed throughout the centuries to make it what it is today. One of such changes is trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating was originated in a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, villagers would walk from town to town asking for “soul cakes.” The more soul cakes a person received, the more he prayed for his donor’s defunct relatives. During this epoch, it was believed that a person would stay in the limbo for a long time. The more prayers towards that person, the faster he would go to Heaven. Today, when kids go trick-or-treating, they ask for treats or there’ll be a trick; a trade.

Halloween’s arrival to America is credited to the Irish. In the 1840’s, they had to flee their country due to a potato famine that left them devastated; spreading Halloween to North America.

Today, Halloween is celebrated in much of the Western world. Including Mexico, Canada, The United States, Ireland, Great Britain and Scotland. Even though Halloween seems like an evil practice at first, there’s nothing to fear about this famous celebration that is spreading throughout the world.