What is your favorite holiday other than Christmas and Thanksgiving? Valentine’s Day? No…The 4th of July? No…Halloween? Yes, you have guessed correctly. Most of us can remember the thrill of dressing up, going from house to house and asking for candy. What’s not to like about that? It’s the best of both worlds – we can eat all the goodies we want and promenade around our neighborhood as a superhero, princess or as a civilian. Sadly, most of us to this day do not know how or why this tradition began.
Halloween is a mysterious holiday with unclear origins. I know – it is shocking isn’t it? Scholars are at odds even today about the true origins of this beloved holiday. They just can’t agree. Some people believe that Halloween is nothing but a pagan holiday. Others take a more religious approach and say that it was inspired by the traditions of European Christians. There are all kinds of myths and legends attached to this beloved and tooth decaying festivity. So who is right? Actually, they all are.
- The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the western parts of Europe.
- October 31st falls on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows or known to many as All Saints’ Day.
- The Irish and the Scottish celebrated the harvest festivals and festivals of the dead.
- The word Halloween was first used by our friends the Scottish. It is a word derived from the words All Hallows ‘Even which means the night before all hallows day.
- The word Halloween is in fact Christian. It also has pagan roots. This word is linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain pronounced SAH-WIN or summers end.
- Samhain opened a door to the other world. Lost or dead souls entered our world along with fairies and other beings.
- The Jack-o-lantern originated from carved turnips. In the 19th century, people in Ireland and the highlands of Scotland would use these turnip lanterns to light their way and to protect themselves against the dead who visited.
- Trick-or-Treating started by the ringing of a bell. People would ring bells for the souls in purgatory. This tradition was called SOULING, a process of baking cakes and sharing them with children who would go door to door.
- North American immigrants used the pumpkin because it was larger, easier to carve and it was native to their land.
- Dressing up in a costume was first called, GUISING. This tradition also started in Scotland and Ireland.