What Is Halloween & How Has It Changed To What Is It Today?

Trick or treating, Halloween attire, outfits for children, partners, and families, and Halloween embellishments. If you grew up and celebrated Halloween the same way as we do now, you most likely would think it was always celebrated like this. But in reality, Halloween has undergone significant changes over the years.

If you could travel back in time and observe the Halloween origin, you wouldn’t even be able to recognize this holiday.

Halloween never gets monotonous, and children get an opportunity to consume a lot of candy, dress up, and engage in trick or treating, as well as decorate their houses with some frightening paraphernalia.

But have you ever pondered where this Holiday originated? What was its inception? And what is the narrative behind it?

So, prior to initiating a list of Halloween attire concepts and planning which Halloween films to view on Netflix, you might be intrigued to continue reading to discover the true Halloween tale.

What is halloween? How did it all start?

Celebrated in the United States today, Halloween is a time when we can indulge in the murkier, eerie aspects of life while also indulging in abundant candy.

It’s a lot of amusement, a touch eerie, and not somber. However, historically, the holiday was religious and held a significant place in the culture of those who observed it.

The roots of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who inhabited Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France 2,000 years ago, celebrated their new year on November 1.

On this day, which marked the end of summer and the harvest, it signified the onset of the cold winter season, often associated with darkness and human death.

The Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred.

On the night of October 31st, they celebrated Samhain, when they believed that the dead returned to the Earth as Ghosts.

Aside from causing turmoil and ruining crops, Celts believed that the presence of otherworldly spirits made it easier for Druids or Celtic priests, to make future predictions. These forecasts provided solace for people who were entirely dependent on the unpredictable natural environment during the lengthy, dark winter.

Druids constructed massive sacred bonfires to celebrate the festival, where people congregated to burn crops and animals as offerings to the Celtic gods. The Celts wore animal heads and skins and attempted to predict each other’s futures during the festival.

They rekindled their hearth fires, which had been extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire after the festival was done to help safeguard them over the approaching winter.

The Roman Empire had gained control over the majority of Celtic territory by 43 A.D. During their rule, two Roman celebrations were integrated with the customary Celtic Samhain celebration over 400 years.

The first celebration was Feralia, a day in late October when Romans commemorated the deaths of their ancestors. The second day honored Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.

Why is Halloween celebrated on October 31?

The ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, which is the earliest known root of Halloween, took place on October 31.

It was a crucial time of year when the seasons shifted, but it was also a time when observers believed the veil between this world and the next thinned, allowing them to communicate with the dead.

Several other cultures echo this belief; for example, during the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur, which takes place in October and involves praying for the dead, a similar thought is stated. This is also where the “haunted” ideas of Halloween come from.

The history of halloween activities

Due to the fact that the Celts were polytheistic, the early pagan feast of Samhain encompassed numerous ritualistic practices to communicate with spirits.

While little is known about these rituals, many believe the Celts donned costume (albeit likely as simple as animal hides) to repel ghosts, enjoyed special feasts, and carved gourds into lanterns (hence the origin of jack-o’-lanterns).

As Christianity gained prominence and the holiday’s pagan connotations waned, its fundamental traditions continued as part of popular culture year after year; they simply evolved and modernized.

Earlier enigmatic rites gave way to lighter pastimes and games. The somewhat foreboding notion of interacting with the dead, for instance, was replaced with the lighter concept of predicting the future.

For instance, on All Hallows’ Eve, bobbing for apples became renowned as a fortune-telling game: apples were selected to represent all of a woman’s suitors, and the apple—sorry, suitor—she ended up biting into was supposedly her future spouse.

Halloween was a significant (albeit somewhat superstitious) courting opportunity for young women in the nineteenth century.

Mirror-gazing was another prevalent All Hallows’ Eve tradition, with individuals hoping to catch a glimpse of their destiny by peering into the mirror.

There have also been accounts of fortune cookie-like treats being distributed in the past. People inscribed messages on milk-soaked pieces of paper, which were then folded and placed into walnut shells.

The shells would be roasted over an open flame, causing the milk to brown just enough for the message to mystically appear on the recipient’s paper.

The history behind halloween costumes and trick or treating

Many individuals were believed to masquerade as saints and move door to door reciting hymns or poetry. Children would often go door to door seeking “soul cakes,” a biscuit-like treat.

Technical note: Soul cakes originated on November 2 as part of the All Souls’ Day holiday (yeah, a third holiday!), but as the practice evolved into trick-or-treating, they eventually became part of Halloween night.

In the early to mid-1900s, the concept of obtaining candy gained traction in the United States, with families dispensing treats to youngsters in hopes that they would be spared from Christmas pranks.

Halloween costumes and Halloween party concepts, on the other hand, underwent evolution as well. While they commenced as earnest commemorations of saints, the tradition likely fell out of favor over time…until a new generation of Scottish and Irish mischief-makers concocted the notion of donning terrifying ensembles to startle unsuspecting neighbors.

Halloween costumes simultaneously became terrifying, creepy, amusing, and innovative due to these neighborhood hooligans.

Day of the dead isn’t actually considered halloween

Despite their apparent similarities – sweets, skeletons, costumed individuals, and other graveyard and demise emblems – Halloween and Day of the Dead (Da de Los Muertos) are quite distinct festivals. While Halloween encourages people to fear the dead, Day of the Dead honors the dead.

The Nov. 2 event is when individuals in Mexico, Central and South America, and increasingly in the United States, honor their ancestors and departed loved ones by inviting their spirits back into their homes to be part of the family once more.

It’s an Aztec ritual extending back thousands of years. The schedule of the feast of the dead was readjusted to coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day as the Catholic faith became more deeply rooted in South America. This linkage is why people often confuse the two festivals.

Block Buster halloween movies

Spooky Halloween films have a lengthy history of being box office smashes when it comes to financial prosperity.

The “Halloween” franchise, based on the 1978 original picture directed by John Carpenter and featuring Donald Pleasance, Nick Castle, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tony Moran, is a quintessential Halloween film.

In the movie “Halloween,” a young child named Michael Myers murders his 17-year-old sister and is incarcerated, only to return as a teenager on Halloween night to seek out his former abode and a new target. A follow-up to the original “Halloween” was released in 2018, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle. “Halloween Kills,” the twelfth film in the “Halloween” franchise, was released as a sequel.

A classic horror film, ‘Halloween’ has served as the inspiration for numerous other legendary films like ‘Scream,’ ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ and ‘Friday the 13th’. Additional types of family-friendly Halloween films include “Hocus Pocus,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Beetle juice,” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Some spooky yet peculiar halloween traditions

Today, Halloween is celebrated in a variety of ways, including celebrating with unique lights that you can easily purchase from Amazon, which are loads of fun.

While the most popular trends followed are costumes, parties, toys, and lots of goodies, there are also plenty of enjoyable traditions and games that people practice. Some of the most popular Halloween traditions are:

Decorating with skulls, skeletons, and ghosts

Many individuals exhibit artificial human skulls in whimsical manners on Halloween, which has deep significance on this day and signifies that they are reminders of the ancients’ intense emphasis on the dead returning on October 31st.

Whether it’s their spirits or what remains of their earthly bodies. The imagery of the skull and its representation may also allude to the ancient Christian tradition of Golgotha, or cavalry, the specific hill where Jesus was crucified. The skull serves as a reminder of the omnipresence of death in life.

Carving Jack-o’-lanterns

Carving ghastly countenances into Jack-o’-lanterns became fashionable around 1895. They were initially carved from turnips (neeps) in the United Kingdom, but in the United States, pumpkins were substituted.

They were transformed into lanterns and carried by “guisers” to ward off evil spirits and because, according to Sterling-Vete, in Christian legend, they symbolize a soul that has been denied admittance into both paradise and hell.

Thankfully, we don’t have to carry them around anymore (leaving more candy in the hands of the youngsters!).

The Heritage of trick-or-treating and Halloween folklore

Trick or treating has been a feature of Halloween celebrations in North America since the early twentieth century, although it originated from an ancient European tradition, like so many other components of the festival.

On All Souls Day, poor people would go to their wealthier neighbors’ homes for a ‘soul cake,’ a type of shortbread, in exchange for the beggars promising to pray for the household’s departed loved ones. The practice, known as ‘souling,’ was later adapted by children, who would traverse door to door searching for sustenance and coinage. Though the custom was reintroduced in the United States by Irish and Scottish groups, it was paused for several years during WWII due to sugar restrictions.

How has Halloween transformed into what it is today?

Americans adopted the Celtic tradition of masquerading and transformed it into the contemporary tradition of trick-or-treating in this new comedic environment. The 1930s nearly outright secularized Halloween, while All Saints’ Day had become more formalized as a Catholic observation. Even today, some religious adherents are staunch in refusing to acknowledge October 31 as anything more than a holy observance.

Today, Halloween has become associated with profit and commercialization. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend over 8 billion on Halloween in 2020.

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  1. Guest

    The reader may find this text interesting as it provides an overview of the origins and evolution of Halloween. They might appreciate learning about the historical significance of the holiday and how it has transformed over time. It could also spark curiosity about the different traditions and customs associated with Halloween today. The reader may be intrigued to discover how the holiday has evolved from its ancient Celtic roots to the modern-day celebration characterized by costumes, trick-or-treating, and parties. Overall, the text seems informative and likely to engage the reader’s interest in understanding the evolution of Halloween.