by AMBER KELLY Photographer
Halloween is a day when people put on scary costumes, deck out their homes in ghoulish decor, and go trick-or-treating. However, where does this holiday come from? Many cite the roots of this day to be religious, stemming as far back as the 1500s.
The word “Halloween” comes from the Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve, the night before All Hallows’ Day when all the saints are honored. Many historians believe that Halloween originates from the Celtic festival of Samhain, which takes place from sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.
The festival of Samhain is primarily celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, and dates all the way back to the tenth century. During this festival, people would put on costumes and make turnip lanterns in order to ward off evil spirits and faeries, similar to how people now wear costumes and carve pumpkins.
Trick-or-treating is said to come from the Irish, since centuries ago Irish farmers would go from house-to-house begging for food for their gods. If the people gave them food, the farmers would promise them good luck, but if the people did not give them food, the farmers would make threats saying, “You treat me, or else I will trick you!”
“It is kind of cool to see where the things we do on Halloween come from. I didn’t know that trick-or-treating even came from anywhere; I would have never guessed that it came from Irish farmers centuries ago. I guess I see now why we say ‘trick-or-treat,'” says senior Jennifer Park.
Historians also look to the Romans when searching for answers concerning Halloween’s origins. In Roman culture, there would be a feast on October 31 for Pomona, the goddess of fruit and seeds. In this culture, there was also the Parentalia, a nine day festival to honor family ancestors, and while it did not take place in October, it was about honoring the dead.
During the Middle Ages, the Romans made the change from the Pagan religion to Christianity. In order to make the conversion easier, some of the Pagan feasts were maintained. November 1 became the day of All Saints, and the night before this was designated as All Hallowed Evening, or Halloween. These days became known as Hallowmas.
When looking at early North American history, there is no evidence that Halloween was celebrated since the almanacs from that time period give no indication of there being a Halloween. However, after mass Irish and Scottish migration in the nineteenth century, it became a part of society, with all the different cultures in America celebrating it.
“Maybe we wouldn’t even celebrate Halloween if it hadn’t been for the mass European migration years ago. That’s weird to think,” says junior Casey Reyes.
After its introduction into North American society, there were modern touches made to it, including mischief night and the trick-or-treating for candy by young kids, rather than farmers.
Are you surprised by Halloween’s origins?