The Cougar Crier

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History of Halloween

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“Trick-or-treat!” When most people hear of Halloween, they think of candy, costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and haunted houses. But do you know how all of these American traditions began?  

It all goes back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain was the festival held annually to celebrate the new year, which was November 1. The Celtic New Year meant that summer was over, and the cold, dark winter was about to begin. Crops from the summer harvest would die, and winter was known as a time of death. The Celts also believed that on this day, the worlds of the living and the dead were not separated. It was believed that the ghosts of those who had died within the past year would come back to earth. During Samhain, people dressed up in costumes, danced, and held bonfires. Some even left baked goods at their doorstep as offerings to the spirits who came back to earth.  

Centuries later, when the Romans had occupied Celtic territory, they merged their holidays of honoring the dead and the goddess of trees and fruit with Samhain. This led to the American tradition of bobbing for apples in autumn. Many years after this, the Roman Catholic Church began celebrating All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2 to honor the deceased. The night before All Saints Day, October 31, was known as All-Hallows Eve. Over time, people began calling this Halloween. As the Europeans immigrated to the United States, they brought their Halloween traditions with them. Over the years, Halloween became a big celebration in our country with candy, costumes, and spookiness.

The Student News Site of John F. Kennedy High School
History of Halloween