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The History of Halloween

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 20-10-2008

Halloween is celebrated on the evening of October 31. People dress up in scary costumes of supernatural monsters on this night. Children go trick-or-treating, traveling from house to house, and asking for candy. Holiday goers also attend parties or bonfires and visit haunted houses.

What is the history of Halloween?

The history of Halloween is said to have originated from a Celtic festival called Samhain, which was a Gaelic celebration marking the close of the harvest season. October 31 marked the night when the worlds of the living and the dead collided. It was believed that the dead would be resurrected, causing chaos in the world of the living through illness and ruined crops. People are said to have donned costumes and masks to imitate and flatter the dead spirits.

According to the history of Halloween, the celebration of Samhain included bonfires. The fire lured insects, which attracted bats. This is why bats are considered a stereotypical symbol of the holiday.

The American tradition of Halloween originated from the traditional practices of nineteenth century Irish and Scottish immigrants in North America. Later, other western countries, such as Canada and Puerto Rico, also started to celebrate the holiday.

What is the history of Halloween’s trick-or-treating custom?

Trick-or-treating was born from a European custom from the ninth century. Earlier, on November 2 or All Souls Day, Christians used to travel from town to town in search of “soul cakes,” a treat of bread with currants. This was known as “souling.” In exchange for the cake, the beggars would offer prayers to hasten the passage to heaven of the souls of the contributors’ deceased relatives.  

How did the current history of Halloween evolve?  

Halloween’s popularity in the United States grew so much that it influenced similar celebration in Europe. More recent history of Halloween in the United Kingdom reveals that mischievous children have often pushed their luck with the “trick” element of trick-or-treating, so that police have had to crack down on them. Similar menacing “tricks” in other countries in Europe have raised red flags about the celebration of this holiday.

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