October is one of my favorite months to celebrate. My Daddy Bill and my Husband Louis’s birthdays are in October, along with my Grandmother Frankie and my Granddaughter Eden. So, lots of celebration with family and friends along with lots of sweets to eat. All building up to the last day of the month. Our favorite spooky holiday we call Halloween.
Do you know where Halloween came from or what it is about? This week I set out to find out just why do we celebrate Halloween. And all those traditions we do for children and adults alike to enjoy the day.
Halloween dated to the ancient Celtic festival Samhain (pronounced sow-in) 2000 years ago. Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, marking the end of summer and the harvest. The beginning of dark, cold winter, a time year that was often associated with more human deaths. Celts believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred on the night before the new year. They believed Halloween as we know it was the time that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
The word means “hallowed evening” and was previously known to early Celt’s celebrators as All Hallows’ Eve. All Hallows’ Eve (October 31) and All Saints’ Day (November 1) both paid homage to saints (“hallows” = saints). The name was eventually shortened to “Halloween,” which we know and love to this day.
It was believed that on Halloween, the souls of the dead returned to their homes, so the living people would dress up as saints’ costumes and go to house-to-house lighting bonfires to ward off the spirits. The people at the time were terrified of the evil spirits. They would make noises in the street to help keep them away, as well. They made themselves lanterns by hollowing out gourds(hence, the history of jack-o’-lanterns) to be able to see as they walked the streets.
The mystical rituals of earlier times evolved into more lighthearted fun and games as time passed. For example, the somewhat heavy concept of connecting to the dead was replaced with the more lighthearted idea of telling the future. Bobbing for apples, for example, became popular as a fortune-telling game on All Hallows’ Eve: Apples would be selected to represent all of a woman’s suitors, and the guy— er, apple—she ended up biting into would supposedly represent her future husband.
Children would also go door to door asking for “soul cakes,” a treat similar to biscuits. Technical note: Soul cakes originated as part of the All-Souls’ Day holiday on November 2 (yep, a third holiday!) but eventually became a part of Halloween night as the concept evolved into trick-or-treating. The traditional colors of Halloween are black and orange. Orange comes from the fall harvest, and black represents death.
Today, Halloween is one of the biggest holidays for candy sales in the United States, exceeding $2.5 billion annually. Around 40% of Americans dress up in a costume on Halloween, and around 72% hand out candy on this day. Making Halloween the second most successful commercial holiday in the United States after Christmas.
I hope you keep these fun facts in mind as you start preparing your home and your family for the fun day and evening of Halloween, keeping those evil spirits away.
If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share or questions on just simplifying your life, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.