History of Halloween

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Common ghost decoration on Halloween (MCT Campus)
Common ghost decoration on Halloween (MCT Campus)

Halloween is associated with trick-or-treating, costumes, and candy, but it took hundreds of years for the holiday to evolve into what it is today. It began as a Celtic festival known as Samhain, a celebration of the end of harvest season.

October 31 was a day used to prepare for winter and greet the spirits of the dead. It was believed that on this day the wall between the living and the dead was broken.

Many different accounts of this celebration are told to explain the transition into the current version of Halloween traditions. Some say that the spirits of the dead searched for offerings of food and water, which is why candy is given out on Halloween. It is also believed that Celts dressed in disguises and made noise to ward off the spirits, explaining the tradition of donning costumes while trick-or-treating.

The practice of trick-or-treating derives from England’s celebration of All Souls’ Day. During the festival, citizens would beg for food and families would give it to them with the promise that the beggars would pray for their dead relatives. This ritual eventually evolved into children visiting houses in their neighborhoods, and the “trick” part has since dissolved.

Different cultures and traditions contribute to the Halloween that we know today. The holiday has evolved a great deal since its beginning, but the basic traditions have remained constant throughout the years.

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