BY: Lynn Reed
Halloween stems from the Celtic and Christian traditions.
While it has always been a morbid, but spooky celebration, it has changed a bunch over the centuries. The tradition began with the Celtic festival of Samhain with our ancestors, lighting bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. We would do this to blend in with any other spirits that came to haunt the All Hallows Eve, the only day a year they were allowed out to go run free. The history of Halloween goes back to a pagan festival called Samhain. The pagan and Christian occasions hadn’t always been back to back, though. Up until the 7th century, All Hallow’s Eve was on May 13. Maybe to offset the occasion with a religious celebration, Pope Boniface IV decided to change the observance to its date of November 1 date. Hundreds of years ago, people would dress up as saints and would go from door to door, which is the origin of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating.
November 1 is All Saints’ Day, a Christian feast dedicated to celebrating the departed, and all saints. In Christian beliefs, people start celebrating major Holy Day feasts the night before it happens. Halloween’s beginnings are in the Catholic, and Christian religions. The Catholic holiday, All Hallow’s Eve, means the night before All Saint’s Day. Halloween is an antique way of saying the night before All Saints’ Day also called Hallowmas or All Hallows’ Day.
Hallows’ Eve, as it’s known by to, made its way to the United States by European immigrants in the 1800s and brought the witch’s costumes with it. With no scientific evidence, we could conclude that at least one out of four people has dressed up like the hooked-nose, broom riding, cauldron-stirring, wart-faced caricature at least one time in their Halloween experience.
Halloween is on October 31 because the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain was considered the earliest known root of Halloween, occurred on this day. It marked a turning point in the time of year when the seasons changed. More important than that, observers believed the realms between the physical world and the spiritual world became extremely thin and was enabling them to connect with our ancient ancestors. This is shared by other cultures as well. Similar ideas are mentioned at Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday. This occurs in October, also involves prayers for the ancient ancestors. This is also where Halloween got its “haunted” connotations.
Samhain has a lot of ritualistic ceremonies and rites to be able to connect with the spirits, as the Celts were polytheistic. While there isn’t a lot of information known about the ceremonies, others think the Celts celebrated in a costume made from simple animal hide from wildlife skin from a deer and such, as a disguise from the spirits, special feasts were enjoyed, and lanterns were made by hollowing out gourds; With this being done it started the carving of pumpkins and dropping in a lit candle. Over time, as Christianity took over, the pagan undertones of the holiday became less and less.
Halloween dates back at least more than 2,100 years. A time when Celtics celebrated New Year’s Day, or Samhain, As legend tells it, that the day before, or Samhain eve, Halloween day, faery and demon spirits would appear, as they traveled to the afterlife. Celts dressed in costumes to ward off the evil spirits and tap into the souls of their ancestry. Have you ever wonder why the broomsticks were a witch’s tool? Brooms were not technically meant for flying. In Celtic times, they had a bigger more mundane purpose. It was used to clean an area before a healing ritual could be carried out forthwith.
Halloween and witches will always be linked together just as roses and chocolate candies have been. Witches will always be one of Halloween’s favorite personifications for costume dress-ups as long as there are kids going trick or treating. Hundreds of years ago, people would dress up as saints and would go from door to door, which is the origin of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating. Knowing the appreciation of the historical value of witches throughout history will definitely increase your Samhain enjoyment this year. One day a year we can be the way we are, and dress the way we want, and are comfortable doing so, showing out as a witch, blending with the background, and no one has a clue, is a wonderful breath of fresh air. Halloween has been linked to Samhain, It is the Celtic festival of the summer’s end celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.
This century witch costumes have changed dramatically, and not many people will dress up as the ugly, old, wart-nosed witchs that are thought of in the myths, legends, and folklore. The women or better said, the witch of today, enjoy being a soft character that is, mystical character or creature. Today’s witch likes dressing up as faer folks or as the stereotypical Hollywood wiggle your nose, I dream of Jeanie witch. For the most part, who wouldn’t? It appears to be a fun way of being able to come out of the closet for most, even if it’s for one night. Go for it, have fun, entertain it. It’s a very pleasing and attractive look about today’ witch as well and so easily slipped by the Christian family members without a second thought. A witch costume with a sexy and feminine burst will put the witch in a standstill with a modern spin that most women like to embrace.
As we are all aware, Halloween is on the last day of October, but here’s some of you might not know, The word itself derives from “Hallowed Evening,” and was known by early Europeans celebrating as All Hallows’ Eve. All Hallows’ Eve — October 31st, and All Saints’ Day—November 1st, both paid respect to the saints. The name ended up getting shortened to “Halloween,”. Hallows means saints.
Drag queens started dressing up for Halloween in skimpy outfits in the 1970s. Halloween parade started in Greenwich Village in 1973 and was copied in Castro and West Hollywood, retailers were selling suggestive costumes. From digging around and hunting for old pictures and finding images of enchanting witches riding those broomsticks started in the 1910s, it looks like witches weren’t so much Salem any more but were much earlier than the disco era.
The mystical rituals of earlier times evolved into a more mediocre way of having fun and playing games. For example, then the heavy understanding of contacting the ancestors was replaced with the more simplistic idea of telling the future. One game was bobbing for apples, for example, became as popular as a fortune-telling game on All Hallows’ Eve. Apples would be used to select and represent all of a lady’s corners, and the guy—er, apple—she bit into would represent her husband in the future and Halloween was used as a matchmaking prop for young women in the 19th century.
All Hallows’ Eve ritual was mirror-gazing, this became a popular thing as people would hope to have a vision of their future by looking into the mirror. Party favors were being given out during earlier times such as fortune cookies and such. There were messages written on pieces of paper with milk, the notes were folded up then put into walnut shells. The shells would then be heated on a fire, which would cause the milk to brown making the message visible for the receiving client. People would make offerings of food to get on the good side of these spirits and departed ancestors, according to the Mirror.
Many people dress up in costumes as saints and would sing hymns or verses going from door to door. Children would go from door to door asking for what’s called”soul cakes,” which is like a biscuit. This was derived from the “All Souls Day holiday, Soul cakes on November 2. eventually this was a part of Halloween night and the basic concept evolved into trick-or-treating. The candy-grabbing concept also started in the U.S. around the early part to the mid-1900s, families would provide treats to children thinking they wouldn’t do any holiday jokes.
Costumes started evolving, from earnest costumes as saints, like most things as time goes, just bled out of popularity. Then a young Scottish and Irish guy decided to start pulling jokes come up with the idea to dress up in scary-looking costumes and did this as a way to scare neighbors and passer Byers. An act that simply caused a turning point in costumes and the traditional actions in Samhain. Halloween costumes became scary, spooky, funny, and creative all at the same time.
Halloween is still a very popular holiday in America today. Although Samhain just about didn’t make it across the Atlantic. The Puritans didn’t agree with the holiday’s pagan roots and refused to participate in the celebrations. When the Irish and Scottish immigrants started arriving in America, the greater numbers, the holiday came back. The very first American colonial Halloween celebration showed large public parties to commemorate the upcoming harvest, tell ghost stories and sing, and dance.