Halloween – Where did it begin?

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I don’t know about you, but I feel like Halloween is becoming more and more popular every year.  Long gone are the days of wearing bin bags as capes and plastic witch fingers as your costume, instead, it’s turned into quite an extravagance with people spending days perfecting their outfit choice.

So where did Halloween originate from?

Looking back at the history of Halloween, it can be dated as far back as 2000 years ago where it originated as part of a Celtic celebration; The Samhain Festival.

Samhain was the division of the year, between the summer and winter (The lighter half and the darker half).  It is also believed at Samhain, the division between this world and the other world was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.  During the celebrations, a family’s ancestors were honoured and welcomed home and harmful spirits were warded off.  It was also at this point in time when costumes were introduced to ‘Halloween’ as people would wear costumes to disguise themselves as harmful spirits to avoid bringing harm to themselves.  There is a lot more to Samhain than just dressing up and warding off harmful spirits, but it just gives a brief insight into where it originated from.

In 43 AD the Romans invaded mainland Europe and conquered much of the Celtic tribal lands and over the next 400 years when they ruled the land, traditions started to diminish and they implemented their own.  Fast forwarding through the decades, Britain was invaded by a new religion – Christianity.  With the arrival of this religion, along came Christian Festivals, amongst them ‘’All Hallows Day’’.  This was originally celebrated on 13th May but it was Pope Gregory who had the date moved to 1st November sometime during the 8th century.  Its lead to believe that in moving this date he was attempting to replace the Celtic Samhain festival of the dead with a related but church approved celebration.

In more recent times (And by that I still mean 150 years ago) Americans began to dress up in costumes and go knocking on peoples doors asking for food and money, which is now more commonly known as trick-or-treating.  It was in the late 1800s that America moulded Halloween into a holiday more focused on community instead of ghosts and witchcraft.  Newspapers and leaders in the community encouraged parents to take anything frightening out of Halloween celebrations and because of this Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones.

Halloween was always a fantastic part of my childhood.  Going to different parties, bobbing for apples, telling ghost stories and eating food that had been made to look like fingers or eyeballs.  I think it’s important to keep traditions alive for younger generations, and if the past 10 years are anything to go by, then I can see Halloween continuing to grow year on year.  For example, for the past 2 years, Manchester has had Monsters take over large buildings around the city for a few days.  Here are some pics:

 

 

So how are you celebrating Halloween this year?  Let us know in the comments.

 

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