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Halloween Heritage

Halloween: a holiday best known for outrageous costumes, candy, jack-o’-lanterns, and haunted houses. it may seem like a frivolous holiday when the world’s children wander the streets in costumes, but Halloween is rich with traditions from many cultures.

Halloween originated from the Celtic festival, Samhain (sow-in). This festival celebrated the Celtic New Year, the harvest, and the end of summer. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the world of the spirits and the living was at its weakest, allowing ghosts to enter the real world. In an attempt to ward off evil spirits, townspeople wore costumes and lit bonfires.

When the Catholic Church heard about  Samhain, it introduced All Souls day, or  all Hallows Eve. All Hallows Eve was created to replace Samhain with a church sanctioned holiday. Instead of replacing the holiday, All Hallows Eve blended with Samhain to create even more popular holiday that would eventually become Halloween.

Halloween came to America when a potato famine drove poor Irish farmers across the Atlantic Ocean in the hope of a better life. At first, the celebration of Halloween was confined to select towns on the East Coast.  At this time, the United States was primarily made up of Protestants, so the influence of Halloween was very limited. Eventually, the customs of the Irish immigrants and those of the Americans began to intermix, and because of this, Halloween became more popular.

Modern Halloween would be unrecognizable without trick-or-treating. Surprisingly trick-or-treating as we know it only started in the 1960s, when children started wearing masks and vandalizing homes. In exchange for not vandalizing, homeowners started giving the masked children candy and other treats. This is how Halloween came to be. 

 

By: Ryan Roco

Photo Credits: https://abcnews.go.com

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