Halloweens History

By: Shelbywright

Halloween celebration traditions are held every October 31st. Today the ones who enjoy Halloween the most are the children. Halloween is a popular time to get up in fancy dress and go from house to house trick or treating. Some people take the time to set up displays in their homes and front yards with tombs and ghosts in a Halloween theme.


Halloween is very old Celtic festival, and has continued through time most strongly in the Celtic communities in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. From there, with emigration, Halloween has spread around the world, most notably to the United States. In later years, the spread of popular American culture has kindled new interest in Halloween to some places for the first time, such as Asia and Western Europe.

The first Celtic customs were pagan festivals linked to the seasonal changes with the onset of winter. The ancients saw it as a time when the living could contact the dead, and magic things could happen. The early Christian church, as with many pagan festivals, absorbed these customs into the Christian calendar. All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows Day, was assigned to November 1st. All Hallows Evening, the night of October 31st, became known as Hallow E'en, later just Halloween, and the time for the ancient celebrations.

Halloween was celebrated in each village, and there was usually a large fire to keep warm and entertaining games.

The apple harvest was going on, and games such as trying to eat an apple on a string or floating in a tub of water with no hands, were favorites. Children would go from house to house to gather fruit, nuts and other foodstuffs for the festivities, which was the origin of the 'treating' visits of today. Notably in Scotland, the children would sing or put on a performance in return for the treats they were handed. Nowadays the treats handed out are usually candies and sweets, and perhaps some coins.

Halloween 'tricks' were originally secret and often witty pranks played on some adults by children, with responsibility assigned to the mischievous spirits that were said to be abroad on Halloween. This trickery was especially common in Ireland. At some stage long lost in time, trick or treating became a stand over tactic: give a treat or become the victim of a trick. This unsociable development led to such customs as throwing eggs at houses and soaping windows, and what we would now see as vandalism. Today such activities at Halloween are uncommon.

Halloween parties are often held with a haunted house theme decoration. To the delight of children, Halloween menu items often include tomato soup renamed as vampire soup, spaghetti dishes renamed with cemetery humor as worms, and the ever-popular breadsticks tipped with sliced almonds and known as witches' fingers. With so many pumpkins being made into carved jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin dishes such as pumpkin pie are often a feature of Halloween menus.

Over recent years, the wizardry themes of the popular Harry Potter books have introduced new approaches to Halloween costumes and decorations for children's Halloween parties.

Halloween costume parties have also become popular events for adults as well in recent years. They are a great excuse to dress up and have fun. It seems the trend today is for any costume to be acceptable, not necessarily just the traditional witches, vampires and ghosts of Halloween. Costume design inspirations are now drawn from many sources, such as recent movies and television series. Some costumes are just witty, such as the seasonally appropriate theme of a 'leaf blower', consisting just of a leaf suspended from the brim of a cap where it can be blown.

Kids and Teens
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