“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen; voices whisper in the trees, “Today’s Halloween.” (Quote from Dexter Kozen, find more at Goodreads). Hundreds of YouTube videos, Instagram Photos, boring story times and even more is waiting for us to rip our brains and intellects apart after consuming the whole content of the bloody Halloween. To not to get dead from all of that easy DIY makeup tutorials and terrifying trick or treats, we’ve prepared for you something more about the history and meaning of this today’s only commercial parade. So, let’s get spooky together and explore the details of petrifying events which lead to our today beloved Halloween.
The origin of Halloween
What is Halloween?
Nowadays belongs Halloween to most popular holidays to the broad public. It is creepy, trendy with lots of sweets and sexy costumes. It allows people to decorate their houses and make amazing parties. But with all that ardor, no one understands what was celebrated initially at this day.
For the beginning, it would be appropriate to explain the word because Halloween can be a little bit tricky for a non-American person. Halloween means by Merriam-Webster only dictionary a holiday celebrated on the October the 31st especially by wearing costumes, trick or treating and other traditions. It is a day before the Christian Day of All Saints. It is very popular in the USA, but it is also finding its paths to the Europe, especially to less Christian countries, for instance, UK, France or others.
If you are asking yourself, why exactly Halloween; well Hallow means in English to honor as holy. It is something like synonym in meaning for a saint. The second part of word originates from a word Eve, so literally, Halloween means the Eve before the Day of Hallows (Saints).
Where are the roots of Halloween?
The dawn of Halloween occurred almost 2000 years ago. In the times, when the Europe was at the beginning of its evolution and when the Celts were raiding the almost its whole Western and Central parts, the Celtic tradition of Samhain has been spread to the tribes and the original inhabitants of Europe. Just for the summary, Christianity hasn’t reached the Europe till the 9th century. That means that till that time it was common for Europeans to have different gods and traditions, which were differentiating from a tribe to a tribe.
Why 31th of October?
Samhain was for Celts the end of the year; very crucial day. Celts lit bonfires, told each other’s fortunes, made sacrifices and much more. The date of Samhain wasn’t coincidental. The end of October was and is until those days the time in the temperate climate zone when the days are getting shorter. The dark is starting to dominate over the light and the summer has officially ended. Depressing and hard winter without enough sun, food, and life are here.
Why is Halloween terrifying?
It could be desperate for a highly modern human of the 21st century to try to imagine the world where Tomas Alva Edison wasn’t even born. Where the only source of light after sunset was candle or oil lamp and the grocery shops or heating were existing only in dreams. All those details, which make our lives comfy have a significant impact on the mind. It is very easy to fall into the depression and fear without enough light. If you tried to spend one wintery day without power, TV or anything disturbing you would get the idea what I’m talking about. Thanks to the darkness and boredom the mind of Celts was numb. It became predisposed for seeing “strange” things. That’s how Samhain was born.
The Celts believed that on the day before their New Year the boundary between the life and death was disrupted. On that day all angry and dissatisfied ghosts of the past have come to the earth to settle their deals. They came seeking a revenge.
The tradition of wearing masks
All humans were terrified because they couldn’t lock up their doors from something that didn’t have a body, they couldn’t run from someone who could teleport himself everywhere he wished. So what did they do? They hide under the surface of masks to be confused with actual spirits. Or they put the food and drinks in front of their doors to discourage the ghost from entering. That’s how they wanted to protect themselves from the darkness. And that’s how traditions of Halloween begun.
Halloween in the era of Christianity
Later, when the Christianity spread all around the Europe, it was a regular thing to do for authorities, to try to cover the pagan holidays with Christian ones to strengthen the faith. That also happened with Halloween. In the 8th century, the Pope Gregory III. established the tradition of November 1. It became the day of all Saints. And that’s how the real Halloween was slowly erased from history.
But with Christopher Columbus’ reach of the bays of America European culture expanded into the New World. The tradition of Halloween was reborn among the “outsiders and non-believers” that emigrated to the America. The American soil was way more hospitable for this old tradition, and Halloween became the part of its national culture.
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