A brief history behind celebrating Halloween and why you should dress up as scary as possible.
Trick or Treat! The time is here when little witches, paper-bagged goblins or rubber-masked imps and bed-sheeted ghosts come to your steps and leave with candy full of bags. It is October and it’s Halloween time!
The history behind celebrating Halloween
Samhain (Snow-) marked the end of summer and the harvest in the colder months. Halloween is celebrated on the evening of October 31, which is the evening before the Christian feast of All Saint’s Day. Halloween’s history goes back to the ancient religion of the Celtic tribes (circa 500 B.C.) who are the Britons, Scots and Irish. Present-day Britain, Scots, Welsh and Irish are all descendants of these ancient Celtic tribes.
The Celts worshipped nature and also believed in the spirit world. They have further worshipped over 300 gods. Their chief god was the sun and they celebrated two festivals revolving around the sun: Beltane, to mark the beginning of summer, and Samhain or Saman to mark the start of winter.
The Celts believed that at the end of summer, Samhain, the lord of death becomes powerful and overpowers the sun god. On October 31, Samhain assembles all the evil spirits who had died the previous year and allows them to return home to visit the living.
On October 31, after the harvest, the druids would meet under an oak grove or near large stone circles where they performed sacrifices. Some believe that Stonehenge in England is one such druid circle. The priests would light great fires and offer sacrifices to Samhain to ensure that the sun returned after the winter.
During the night all the fires except the sacrificial one to Samhain were extinguished. The Vigil of Samhain, as it was called, would keep the sacrificial fire on through the night and the next day embers from this fire would be used to light the fire in each household.
Why do we give treats and wear scary costumes on Halloween?
Villagers would also try to appease goblins and demons with offerings of food and nuts. They would leave the little treats that the household had to offer, to satisfy the hunger of these demons. If the demon was satisfied with the treat, it was believed it would not trick the person or cast an evil spell. Therein lies the origin of the present-day trick-or-treat.
Legend has said that the people would also wear masks or other disguises and blacken their faces to try and pass unnoticed by the spirits. This stemmed from the belief that ghosts or spirits cannot see their own reflection. Hence, if a goblin or demon saw another creature looking suitably horrible, they would run away in terror.
Notably, November 2, is celebrated as All Souls Day, when the dead are remembered. To Christians, All Soul is a day is a time for people to pray for the dead.
Traditionally people used to wear costumes, animal skins, and heads and attempted to tell each other’s fortune. Notably, the first was Feralia, a day late in October when Romans marked the passing of the dead. Pomona comes second on the list. Pomona, the Roman Goddess of fruits and trees and that’s the reason why we see bobbing apples on Halloween Night.
In 609 AD Christianity changed the festival to add praying for the dead.
What Halloween had become today?
Today, Halloween is a festival of fun for kids. An occasion to dress up as little monsters, ghosts or witches. Over time the custom of adults dressing up as demons changed and the children took over. As they went from house to house, they would knock at each house and cry “trick or treat”. People would then give the children apples or buns and later candy to keep from being tricked.
Celts believe that one night before New Year the boundaries between the world of the living and the dead become blurred.
Over time Halloween Night has become a secular festival and people all across the globe celebrate it with a lot of zeal. Children love this festival as they get a chance to wear interesting costumes.
Are you ready?
Edit- Ayushi Mittal