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What’s The Dark History of Halloween

By Emma Davies


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With the spooky season just around the corner, we bet most people are starting to get their homes ready for the season. Halloween, as we know it is a huge celebration marked by spooky costumes, jack o lanterns, trick or treating, and of course candy. People of all ages embrace their inner ghosts and ghouls and dress up for a night of fun and candy. But have you ever wondered how this fascinating holiday even came to be? Most people think that it’s quite an American tradition but believe it or not, you’re in for a trick and a bit of a treat.

History of Halloween

The origins of this spooky holiday actually spans centuries and continents to its beginnings due to the Celtic celebration of Samhain. So sit tight and let’s learn all things Halloween, whether supernatural or historical.

When Did Halloween Start?

So, when did this popular celebration begin, and what’s the origin of halloween? Most people agree that the idea of Halloween began roughly 2000 years ago and was birthed by the Celts during the celebration of Samhain (pronounced as “sow – in”). This celebration would mark the end of the season of harvest and celebrate the new year that was about to begin.

During this holiday, people would celebrate that the wall between those dead and alive was especially thin so people would attempt to communicate with their loved ones that had passed away.

For them, this festival would begin on October the 31st because this is when their new year started and when it was believed that the wall between life and death was extremely thin. They believed that the ghosts of those who had passed would actually come to visit them on Earth on this night. Their celebration would celebrate the beginning of a colder and darker winter and it was very often associated with human death.

The Celts also believed that during this time when other spirits were present, it was much easier for druids and priests to predict the future. These prophecies were very important to the Celts because it was a great source of hope and comfort for their future during the dark winter months.

During this time, druids would also burn bonfires to make sure that they were only connecting with their loved ones and that they got rid of any evil spirits around them. People would also dress up with animal skins and heads to tell each other’s fortunes and burn crops and animals as a sacrifice to the deities.

When this celebration came to an end, they would relight their fires using parts from the sacred bonfire to make sure they were well protected during the winter that was on its way. So that’s where it all started, but the story continues.

Halloween History Continues

The Roman Empire decided to invade the Celts and take their lands. The Celts were conquered in around 43 CE and as we all know, they ruled for a while. There are also some connections to Halloween as we consider their festival called Feralia where they would mourn the dead and carry out their Pomona ceremony which celebrated fruits and trees.

When was Halloween Invented?

Now after a few years into the Roman reign, the Catholic church was trying desperately to replace any so-called Pagan practices with their own ones but they kept a few Pagan traditions.

So, a lot of the Celtic Samhain traditions carried on and on November 2nd, the church would honor the dead. You could argue that the Catholic church was trying to replace this Celtic traditional holiday with a more ‘church approved’ version of it. On this day, lots of people would dress up as different biblical icons such as angels, saints, and even the devil himself. This day was called “All Saint’s Day” and was also recognized as “All Hallow’s Day” which explains why it later developed into being called Halloween in modern days.

Later on in Colonial New England, the celebrations of Halloween were fairly restricted because of the protestant beliefs that were around at the time. You would find it a lot more in Maryland in the United States of America. But when beliefs from different ethnic groups from Europe and American Indians started to mix, Halloween, similar to what we know today, was formed.

Halloween Holiday

In the early celebrations of Halloween, people would attend play parties which were publicly held events to enjoy the harvest and celebrate it. Lots of people would share spooky stories and stories about the dead as well as telling fortunes and dancing.

So, by the middle of the 19th century, the autumn celebrations that were held annually were becoming more common but Halloween wasn’t something that everyone celebrated and it hadn’t spread across the country completely.

In the second half of this century, immigrants joined America, many of them being Irish helped make this celebration bigger and it became what it is today. Halloween will still vary based on where you go in the world. For example, in America, it’s a whole day celebration whereas in the United Kingdom, it’s more celebrated in the evening when it gets dark and spooky.

Now it’s important to remember that Halloween is a massive mix of cultures and lots of different people have brought it all together to what it is now. The Celts, the Romans, the Christians, and the Catholics to name just a few and of course, our generation has added a lot to Halloween history.

Halloween Dark History

A huge number of people enjoy Halloween going all out to celebrate this time of year. But do you know where its roots come from and the history behind some of the innocent Halloween activities, games, and traditions? Now, we’re going to warn you – this could get creepy.

We’ve touched on some of the creepy aspects of it already but we still have some more creepy facts that surround the holiday.

Apple Bobbing

We all know the fun game that is apple bobbing but did you know that it’s roots go a lot deeper than just a fun party game? In fact, a lot of people used to dunk their heads in water to see their future, most commonly to see who their future spouse was. A lot of women would mark an apple and throw it into the water and then whoever pulled it out would be their future spouse.

Jack O Lanterns

We’ve all seen the jack o lanterns dotted around and everyone’s got to love some pumpkin carving whether you like Halloween or not. But, it actually originates from an Irish legend when a drunkard called Jack decided to trap the prince of darkness inside a tree by putting a sign of a cross on the bark.

He then made Satan promise that he would never claim Jack’s soul. When he died, he wasn’t allowed in heaven and so he turned to the devil as an old friend. But, satan didn’t take his soul just as he promised and threw a piece of coal at him. Jack’s afterlife figure then put this piece of coal in a turnip and used it as a lantern. He carried on through the afterlife trying to find somewhere for his soul to rest for eternity.

Trick or Treating

Trick or treating is also quite an interesting one and if you truly think about the tradition in our day and age it’s actually quite disturbing. During the medieval ages in England, people would go around asking rich people for soul cakes which carried the sign of the cross on top on Halloween – they would call them ‘soulers’. Instead of the tricksters that we have today, these soulers would pray for the rich people’s souls in the hope that they would get cake in return.

Is Halloween A Holiday?

The short answer is yes – lots of people do consider Halloween to be a holiday. It’s celebrated by countries across the world on the 31st of October which is the eve of All Saint’s Day.

Today, the holiday is celebrated with pumpkins, dressing up as Halloween movie characters, spooky figures, Halloween monsters, or anything that takes your fancy. People also enjoy trick or treating where they pose the question Trick or Treat in order to gather as much candy as possible. Many will also enjoy apple bobbing where they have to retrieve an apple with their mouth. Lots of people also enjoy watching a Halloween movie to get them into the spirit.

We all know the black cat too and it’s quite an important symbol during the Halloween season but did you know it’s always been associated with the supernatural world? Lots of people believe that they show protection and good luck and lots of people also think they lead the souls of loved ones who have died in a past life – a bit like reincarnation. Lots of people would like to have a black cat around their house because of this because they think it’ll bring joy and happiness into their home.

About Emma Davies

Emma Davies is a freelance writer that specializes parenting and animal topics. With over 20 years experience as a parent there are very few topics that faze her.

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