Halloween is here, so let’s talk a little bit about the history of Halloween.
Halloween’s history can be traced back to the Celtic festival Samhain, which means “summer’s end.” Samhain celebrates the end of what is considered the “lighter half” of the year (spring and summer) and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year (fall and winter).
Halloween’s history and connection to ghosts, goblins and whatnot stems from the Celtic belief that during Samhain, the separation between our world and the Otherworld (the realm of the dead) became almost non-existant, allowing all sorts of spirits to pass from the Otherworld to our world. Both good and bad spirits were capable of coming to our world, so to ward the evil ones off, people would ware costumes and masks. By doing this, only the good spirits, believed to be of deceased loved ones, could come to the Celts’ homes.
What about the actual word “Halloween?” Halloween is a variant of All Hallows Evening, which, on Oct. 31, is the day before All Hallows Day on Nov. 1. This was shortened to All Hallows Even, and then the “v” was dropped to All Hallows E’en. It’s not a big jump to see how that got to Halloween.
Pumpkins were not always associated with Halloween. Initially, turnips were used. Pumpkins replaced them because they are easier to carve than turnips.
As for Halloween trick-or-treating, that is derived from Middle Ages, when the poor would go door-to-door asking on All Hallows Day to ask for food before All Souls Day, Nov. 2.