Hello everyone! I decided to get a little studious today and look into the history of Halloween. I always knew it had pagan roots but I never knew anything more than that. It’s quite fascinating! I summarized the information, but should you feel inspired to read more, especially about more specific Victorian era stories (celebrations and ghosts), I encourage you to visit The Complete Victorian (where I got my information).
So grab a broom and a candy apple and travel to a long, long time ago… ‘Till next time!
Halloween goes back 2,000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st and believed that on the night before the new year, the worlds of the living and the dead came together. The Celts would wear costumes and would tell each other’s fortunes. By the 800s, Christianity had spread and November 1st became All Saint’s Day to celebrate saints and martyrs. This celebration was called All-hallows and the night before would be called All-hallows Eve, which would eventually turn into Halloween.
Trick-or-treating comes from the English traditions of early All Souls’ Day parades where the poor would beg for food and be given pastries called “soul cakes” while promising in return to pray for a dead relative.
People would dress up in costume as a way to deceive the ghosts were were believed to be roaming around on All-hallows Eve. If they thought a person was a ghost, then it was believed the person would be left alone.
In America, by the late 1800s, there was a push to make Halloween more about community and parties were encouraged for both children and adults. Halloween eventually lost most of its superstitions and religious overtones, and the day became more about parties, candy/food, and having a good time.