Facts About Halloween
Here are a few things you may not know about Halloween...
The origins of Halloween date back to the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts lived the area known as Ireland, the United Kingdom and France about 2,000 years ago.
The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1. This was the end of summer and the beginning of winter.
The Celts believed that during the season transition that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.
On October 31, the Celts celebrated Samhain. This was when it was believed that ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
Druids, or Celtic priests, would build bonfires where crops and animal sacrifices would be burned. Druids would make predictions about the future on this day.
Costumes were worn, usually animal heads and skins.
By 43 A.D. the Romans had conquered most of Celtic territories. Two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the Celtic festival Samhain.
Feralia was a day in late October when Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead was incorporated into the celebration of Samhain.
The celebration of Pomona (the Roman goddess of fruit and trees) was also incorporated into the celebration of Samhain. The symbol of Pomona is the apple.
In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saint's Day. It is believed that this move was an attempt to replace the Celtic festival with a state sanctioned holiday that was related. This celebration was called All-hallows or All-hallowmas. The night before All Saint's Day (All-hallows) became known as All-hallows Eve…and eventually Halloween.
In A.D. 1000, the church made November 2 All Souls' Day. The day was to honor the dead. The celebration of All Souls' Day was similar to Samhain with bonfires, costumes and parades.
The three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints' and All Souls' were called Hallowmas.
The first official citywide Halloween celebration was in Anoka, MN in 1921.
In 1584, French explorer Jacques Cartier reported that he had found "gros melons". The word translated to "pompions" in English. The term eventually evolved into "pumpkin".
Americans eventually reinvented Hallowmas by removing the religious overtones and made it into a harvest festival.
Colonial Halloween celebrations included ghost stories and mischief making.
In the mid-1800s, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house-to-house asking for food or money….later known as trick-or-treat.
In the late 1800s, American began to steer Halloween away from "scary" things and moved toward parties. This led to most of the superstitious and religious aspects of Halloween to fall away.
By the early 1900s Halloween parties focused primarily on festive costumes, games and foods.
By the 1950s, Halloween had evolved to a holiday that catered mainly to children. The practice of trick-or-treating was revived during this time.