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History of Halloween

By Edited Jun 23, 2015 2 2

The History of Halloween has much more meaning than just decorating, dressing up and going door to door in hopes to receive free Halloween treats. Many children and families believe Halloween to be just another fun holiday that many people celebrate. The pumpkin is more than just a Halloween decoration that we carve the insides out of and place a lit candle in. The history behind the Jack-O-Lantern did not start with a pumpkin, as many believe it to be. Accept it or not dressing up in costumes and the items that many use as decorations for Halloween actually served as a form of defense against the spirits of dead souls many hundreds or years ago. In the history of Halloween, you will find that the day, November 1st used to be as celebrated as often as the day of October 1st was centuries ago. Common day trick-or-treat items, such as candies and toys were not the only gifts or treats handed out to children traveling door to door on Halloween night. The common Halloween traditions that are proposed without thought today have actually been predetermined due to the actions of the Celts many thousands of years ago.

The Celts believed that on October 31st was the day or the Eve of the new year. They also believed that the two world's of the living and the dead would become obscured on this day. The Celts believed, two thousand years ago, that the dead souls could return to earth the night before November 1st to cause illness, injury, suffering, evil hardships and damage to their crops. The Celtics called the Eve of November 1st the Samhain. The Celtics were sure, that on this day the priests would have less difficulty predicting the future and giving prophecies. These previsions comforted and guided the Celts during the season of Samhain. The guidance of the prophecies gave a sense of security and comfort to the Celtics.

During Samhain, the Celtics would dress up in costumes and masks to celebrate the Eve of the new year. Many of the costumes were designed to look like the popular animals in their lands. In the history of Halloween, it is said that many of the masks and costumes were supposed to mimic or copy the evil spirits. The level of importance of the Eve of November 1st was huge for the Celtics. Their would have been enormous bonfires during the celebration of Halloween. In these bonfires, they would burn animals as sacrifices. Together the Celtics would bond, often predicting each other's futures of good and bad fortunes to come in the future. Before long Christianity became popular enough to spread over the surface of the land and regarded November 1st as All Saint's Day. This day was said to respect and honor the martyrs and saints. Halloween also received several names, at this time, such as Hallo's Eve or All Hallo's Eve.

Up to date, Halloween traditions include, dressing up in any costume and traveling by foot or vehicle door to door collecting hand outs of candies and toys. Other popular modern day traditions include craving pumpkins into Jack-O-Lanterns, visiting one or more haunted houses in October, going on hay rides, having costume parties to celebrate or having bonfires. Children and adults often celebrate by playing Halloween games, such as bobbing for apples. Trick or Treating or going door to door to collect candy is an account of ancient traditions. Centuries ago, humans would travel door to door, knocking and begging for food on November 1st. They would exchange prayers for the dead for food and treats. Later as ancient times progressed into the future children begin going door to door singing or telling rhythms in anticipation of gaining ownership to nuts or candies.

The History of Halloween included pumpkin carving and it all is said to originate from a man named Stingy Jack and his behaviors. The legend of Stingy Jack says that he invited the Devil, or prince of darkness to share a drink with him. Stingy Jack was not a wealthy man, and he was unable to pay for the drink that he ordered. He asked the common enemy, the Devil to transfer himself into the form of a coin so that he, Stingy Jack could pay for the previously consumed drink and purchase another drink for himself. The Devil agreed to morph himself into the shape of a coin. Stingy Jack changed his mind after the Devil had already changed himself into a coin, and did not buy another drink for himself. Instead, Stingy Jack put the coin in his trouser pocket. He placed the coin next to a cross or crucifix in his pocket to refrain from the prince of darkness turning back into the Devil. Time went on, and approximately a year later Stingy Jack chose to free the scamp, but not without conditions. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise that he would not punish or penalize him for the wrong doings, and he also demanded that the Devil not take his soul. A period of time went by and the clever Stingy Jack decided to trick the Devil once again. Stingy Jack convinced the prince of darkness to climb a tree. The Devil climbed the tree at Stingy Jack's request. Stingy Jack carved a cross into the tree to prevent the Devil from being able to come down the tree. Jack decided to make another deal with the demon, he made the Devil promise to leave Stingy Jack alone for a minimum of ten years, in return, he would allow him to come down the tree. Eventually Stingy Jack's time was up. He died and due to his lack of honest behavior God would not allow him to enter heaven. The Devil was still sore with Stingy Jack's deceptions and would not allow him to enter hell. With no place to go, Stingy Jack was given a piece of coal to light his way into the dark nights. Stingy Jack's wittiness still shined on for he place the lit coal into a turnip to keep the coal light from ever going out. As time progressed, commoners begin to make their own Jack-O-Lanterns. They would use potatoes and turnips in an attempt to alarm, frighten and scare off Stingy Jack. The term Jack-O-Lantern is said to have developed, based on this tale.



Nov 6, 2009 11:52am
Well written! Great story to tell on Halloweeen.
Jun 11, 2010 1:41pm
Excellent article on the history of Halloween!
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