Mystery, magic, superstition, horror, and everything spooky is what defines Halloween! We get the chills during this time of the year. And not to forget the little kids coming around your house dressed like a vampire or a ghost, Halloween is a celebration to remember the departed souls.
Halloween is celebrated all across the globe on October 31 every year. Though this day has gained significance in India in recent years only, this is a huge event in the western world. The day has been celebrated more like a reason for a spooky social gathering now.
The history of Halloween is way too interesting and eerie than you actually thought! There are several legends involved with it so let’s travel back in time and take a look at this spooky festival’s history!
One of the most common stories behind Halloween is its origin 2000 years back when the Celtics celebrated the end of the harvest season and the coming of a new year with a festival called ‘Samhain’. They also used to light big bonfires to communicate with the dead. They felt they could easily talk to them during this time of the year.
The Celts felt that because of their communication with the dead, they could easily predict what was going to happen in their future, they could predict the coming events. The people of the village visited the bonfires wearing animal skin and heads, and sacrificed crops and animals.
Association with Bats
When we talk about bats, we think of Halloween but behind this, there is a historical significance. The bugs used to get attracted to the bonfires that the Celtics lit during the Samhain festival. This, in turn, used to attract bats to eat the bugs. A few years later, bats were associated with death and doom. It is believed if a bat settles down in a house, it means the man of the family will die and if it keeps flying above your house, it is believed that the woman of the house will die.
After conquering the Celtics by 43 AD, the Romans started their own fall festivals in October. They called it the Feralia where they used to honor the dead. The Roman Goddess of fruits and trees was honored with a festival named Pomona. The reason behind using apples during Halloween has its roots here.
A few centuries ahead, the Christian popes tried to shift Halloween a little further. They tried to replace the pagan festival of Samhain with their own festivals. By 1000 AD, they replaced it with “All Saints’ Day”, celebrated on November 2. It marked the day to pray for the dead. All Hallows on November 1 was celebrated to honor the saints, which made October 31 the All Hallows’ Eve, later to be named Halloween.
Various Rituals Of Halloween Day
Traditions in Old England and Ireland continued to link Halloween to remember the dead. To feed the peckish spirits they used to bring out gifts of food, wear scary costumes, and exchange them with treats. This practice was named “mumming”, and resembled the trick-or-treating of today’s times.
The southern colonies of America were the ones who predominantly celebrated the first Halloween-like parties. They used to celebrate the harvest, tell each other’s future, and narrate spooky stories. These were called “play parties”.
In yet another spooky ritual that was followed during this time was by the women who used to perform certain rituals to find a husband for themselves. They used to keep apple peels on their shoulders and when it fell, they used to look for initials formed on their peels, indicating the initials of their future husbands.
They also used to engage in apple-eating competitions during the season to think that the one who eats first will get married first. And the spookiest ritual that was followed by them was that they used to stand in a dark room with a candle in front of a mirror believing that the image of their future husband will be seen in that mirror.
By the end of the 1800s, people started practicing better and safer rituals of Halloween. They used to engage in Halloween parties, conduct games, and have social events.
By the 1950s, trick-or-treating came into play. The festival gained national importance. According to the National Retail Federation, today around 179 million Americans celebrated the day by buying 9.1 billion dollars worth of candies, decorations, costumes on Halloween!
Is it a National Holiday?
Though Halloween is celebrated with full zest all across America, and now all across the globe, the day still remains not a national holiday. The offices and organizations have normal working hours on this day.
- The famous White House of the United States is haunted.
- trick-or-treating was developed out of a ritual called ‘souling’, where poor children would go and beg for food or money that they offered for the souls of the dead. This ritual was called ‘souling’.
- jack-O-Lanterns are associated with an Irish legend of Stingy Jack.
- Stephen Clarke set a Guinness World Record by carving a pumpkin in 16.47 seconds.
- Candy was not given to trick-or-treaters before the 1950s.
- Skittles ranks the favorite candy of the Americans and candy corn the least favorite.
- Candy corn was initially called “chicken feed”.
- Halloween phobia is called ‘Samhainophobia’, which means fear of Halloween.
- Some places call the night before Halloween the mischievous night.
- The Haunted Cave is the world’s longest haunted house, measuring a total of 3,564 feet long.
A very Happy and spooky Halloween to you all! Don’t forget to bring loads of candies back home today!