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The Real History of Halloween

A History of HalloweenOn October 31, families around the world celebrate Halloween. Children don costumes, eagerly anticipating Trick or Treat (which others call Beggarís Night). Parents place carved pumpkins on the doorstep or window sill with a candle inside. Others display cardboard witches, bats and hobgoblins. But what was the first Halloween like?

Halloween began with the ancient Celtics who celebrated Samhain on October 31, the last day of harvest and the beginning of winter. It was the day they took stock of their crops. The Celtics believed the dead walked the earth on October 31. If they were vengeful they would destroy your crops. To appease them they started a bonfire. The bonfire released insects and bats surged in numbers to eat them. To further please the dead the Celtics wore ghostly costumes, painted their faces or wore masks. They left carved vegetables (usually turnips) on the window sill as gifts.

Trick or Treat!

The first Halloween was about survival. Today, itís sheer fun. The most festive part, trick or treating, arose in the Middle Ages. On November 1, or Hallomas, the poor would knock on doors and promise prayers for food. This was in preparation for November 2, All Souls Day. Historical evidence shows that Halloween traditions reached American shores by way of the Irish, who migrated in droves due to the mid-1800s Great Potato Famine. The Irish tradition meshed with elements of U.S. culture at that time. Children wore costumes and sang for treats, a 1900 newspaper reported. The turnips gave way to pumpkins, which are easier to carve.

For more information about Halloween go to the History Channelís Real Story of Halloween for videos, articles, photos and tales. Also Check out the History of Halloween site to view the holidayís evolution. Pumpkin Patches resource website gives the long view. The Halloween Wikipedia Page focuses on current traditions. Finally, try Here is Halloween History and Customs of Halloween and official Halloween Magazine .

Happy Halloween!