The History of Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated every year on October 31st. While it is celebrated around the world, it is mostly western countries that commemorate the day. The holiday origins are traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain as well as Christianity and has been associated with images of the dead and the supernatural world. Today, children dress up and go trick-or-treating while adults wear costumes at parties. Watching horror movies and visiting haunted attractions are also popular. In this video, WatchMojo.com learns more about the history and origins of Halloween.
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This holiday is also known as All Hallows’ Eve. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be learning more about Halloween.

October 31


Halloween is a holiday observed annually on October 31st. Though it is celebrated in some Asian and South American countries, it is mostly commemorated by Western nations.

Pagan Origins


Some believe Halloween has pagan origins. It is mostly commonly linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of autumn and the harvest season. During this period, the peoples of the Gaelic world held feasts in honor of the departed souls that entered our realm.

Samhain


Alongside the souls of the deceased, it was believed that various supernatural beings made their way to us as well, but not all of them were good. As such, people started carrying carved turnips and wearing costumes in a possible attempt to deter evil spirits. Other Samhain customs included going from home to home to gather food, fuel and offerings for the festival. When the Roman Empire conquered Celtic territory later on, some of ancient Rome’s religious traditions, such as its festival of the dead, were incorporated into the celebration of Samhain.

Christian Origins


Halloween has also been associated with Christianity because of All Hallows or All Saints’ Day on November 1st. With All Souls’ Day falling on November 2nd, this holy period obliged religious Europeans to observe various traditions that were in practice as early as the twelfth century. For instance, to pray for souls trapped in purgatory, the impoverished went to their neighbors’ homes for soul cakes that were baked for the occasion. Meanwhile, those trying to hide from potentially vengeful spirits would dress up.

North America


This tradition spread to North America through Irish and Scottish immigration in the nineteenth century. It was here that the pumpkin eventually replaced the turnip as the Jack-O-Lantern. Other objects connected with fall, like corn husks and scarecrows, were also adopted as decorations for the home during Halloween.

Costumes


Thanks to its associations with spirits and the world beyond, Halloween has been linked to paranormal imagery and horror figures. So, as trick-or-treating increased in popularity, many traditional Halloween costumes worn by children became supernatural in theme. These days, costume choices have expanded to include famous people, pop culture characters and more.

Trick-or-Treating


Today, instead of traveling to a neighbor’s home for soul cakes or other offerings, the custom involves a request for sweets. Normally reserved for kids, the practice of going to door-to-door is usually accompanied by participants asking “Trick or treat?” when collecting their candy. Playing pranks has also been historically associated with Halloween. Some children also carry boxes for charitable donations.

Halloween Parties for Adults


Adults celebrate by also donning costumes and attending Halloween parties. Other common activities today include watching horror movies and sharing ghost tales.

Lucrative Business


Halloween is now a lucrative holiday, as costumes, candy and horror films are big business. You’ll likely be able to find a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to watch, but Halloween attractions like haunted houses, hayrides, and more are also available.

For Halloween costume and makeup ideas, head to WatchMojo.com for our easy and fun tutorial videos!
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