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The History of Halloween

Source: Pixabay
 pixabay.com

Source: Pixabay pixabay.com

Kaylan Wright, Staff Writer

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Halloween is often mentioned as the “Devil’s Birthday” or some other reference that isn’t even related to the holiday’s origins. It actually has religious aspects to its history. Even though Halloween is now culturally based on horror, demonic figures, witches, costumes, and candy, its history stems from both pagan and religious beliefs.

Many people assume Halloween’s history is based on human sacrifice and satanic rituals, which isn’t true. The Celts are believed to originally create the holiday Samhain, which Halloween stems from. According to Morton (2013), the Celts performed rituals that included human sacrifice for hundreds of deities, but it wasn’t for Samhain. These sacrifices were to help with improving herds, harvests and victories in battle. The Celts believed that during Samhain, the doors opened between their world and the afterlife. They celebrated at night with a feast, and also during this time they would start bonfires and wear costumes to scare ghosts away (Morton, 2013, p.15). They celebrated without human sacrifice or any brutal practice.

Samhain occurred on Oct. 31, and was the mark for the end of summer and beginning of winter. According to Morton (2013), the Celts believed in an afterlife called “Land of Summer”, and the doors to this world opened for the dead and supernatural creatures to come from. These beliefs are what influenced Halloween’s theme. Overtime, the Celts’ beliefs changed, and they converted to Christianity. This is probably the reason why the Celts gave up Samhain. Pope Gregory III encouraged the church to change the date to Nov. 1 and the name to All Saints Day to celebrate the saints and martyrs, which included some Samhain traditions. All Hallows Eve became the day before All Saints Day. Halloween’s name came from All Hallows Eve, and hallow means “holy”. Later, the witch trials took place and caused All Hallows Eve to be more about witches, cats, and the Devil (Morton, 2013, pg. 18). Eventually, Halloween’s  tradition of adorable little kids walking to each door receiving candy came into play, but it was not always celebrated the way people do today.

Halloween’s history is very ironic and misunderstood. The theme and traditions of Halloween came from ancient Celtic culture and the witch trials, and its name literally means “holy”. The holiday itself is a paradox. Now, Halloween is more community-oriented and is all about the fun in horror, costumes and sweet treats.

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The History of Halloween