Spooookiest day of the year is knocking the door! Just thinking of all the candy, scary stories, and pumpkin have got us hyped!
Whatever the history and origins of Halloween, Halloween is celebrated in many different ways by all sorts of people around the world. Every October, we prepare for dark colours, scary legends, and wacky costumes — and we're sure you've wondered why!
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
People made many of the old pagan customs part of Christian holy day. Some people put out food for their ancestors, or left a lantern burning in the window so that ghosts could find their way home for the night.
When the Romans had conquered most Celtic territory by 43 A.D., they brought their own fall festivals with them, according to History. Their October celebration called Feralia also commemorated the passing of the dead.
In the United States, the origins of Halloween start with the early settlers. When early American settlers came from England, many of them brought various beliefs about ghosts and witches with them. In the 1800s, many immigrants from Ireland and Scotland arrived in the United States and introduced their Halloween traditions. Other groups added their own cultural influences to Halloween customs. German immigrants brought a vivid witchcraft lore, and Haitian and African peoples brought their native voodoo beliefs about black cats, fire, and witchcraft.
The first similar celebrations in America predominantly arose in the southern colonies, according to History. People would celebrate the harvest, swap ghost stories, and even tell each other's fortunes. However, those early fall festivals were known as "play parties" — not Halloween.
Traditionally, it was known as All Hallows' Eve, when the dead were remembered. Over time, it became Halloween. As a secular holiday, Halloween has come to be associated with a number of activities.
Borrowing from European traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Trick-or-treaters go from house to house with the threat that they will pull a trick if they do not receive a treat, usually candy. And with that candy became the heart of the festival. Did you know? One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the US is purchased for Halloween.
Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors. Halloween parties often include games such as bobbing for apples, perhaps derived from the Roman celebration of Pomona.
Along with skeletons and black cats, the holiday has incorporated scary beings such as ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, and zombies into the celebration.
Another symbol is the jack-o'-lantern, a hollowed-out pumpkin carved into a demonic face and lit with a candle inside. In the original tradition supplicants moved from door to door carrying hollowed-out turnip lanterns, whose candle connoted a soul trapped in purgatory. America, pumpkins replaced turnips because they were plentiful as well as easy to hollow out and carve.
How did the jack-o'-lantern become a part of this tradition of costumes and sweet treats? Where did the name jack-o'-lantern come from? The legend that has been told references a man named "Stingy Jack" and goes back to when the Irish immigrants came to the United States due to the potato famine many years ago. Jack was known as a trickster that fooled the devil a couple of times, making the devil promise to not bother him for over 10 years and upon his death to not take his soul.
Upon Jack's death, the devil kept his promise and did not take his soul; unfortunately, God would not allow such an unsavory into heaven.
The devil sent Jack into the dark with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a turnip he was eating and has been roaming the earth ever since. The Irish children would put a piece of glowing coal in a carved potato, turnip or beet to commemorate this Irish trickster of the devil.
This event is not limited within any culture or religion anymore. It is one of the most awaited day for kids around the world (including Bangladesh) to celebrate ghosts, monsters, scary stories, costumes and candy.