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The History of Halloween

Credit%3A+History.com
Credit: History.com

We are officially in the spooky season and with the spooky season comes Halloween traditions. Now only some celebrate Halloween, but for those that celebrate it, do you know the history behind the spooky holiday traditions? Let me tell you a few of the back stories to some of your favorite funny and spooky traditions.

 

How Halloween Got Its Name

 

Halloween was called All Hallows Eve and came the evening before All Saints Day (November 1st), which originated from the Celtic people. The Halloween holiday has its roots in the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain. The Celtic Festival of Samhain is a pagan religious celebration to welcome the harvest at the end of summer; People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off the evil spirits that roam the earth during the celebration. 

 

 Jack O Lanterns

 

Carving jack-o-lanterns originated in Ireland and were originally carved into turnips instead of pumpkins. Jack-o-lanterns are based on a legend about a man named Stingy Jack who repeatedly trapped the Devil and only let him go on one condition, the condition being that Jack would never go to Hell. However, when he died he soon found out that heaven didn’t want his soul either. So with nowhere to go, he was left with only one option which is to roam the earth as a ghost.

The Devil gave Jack a burning lump of coal in a carved-out turnip to light his way. Locals eventually began carving scary faces into their turnips to frighten away evil spirits. 

 

Seeing Ghosts

 

The Celtic people believed that during the Samhain Festival, spirits would walk the earth and celebrate with them. All Souls’ Day was introduced on November 2, which perpetuated the idea of the living coming into contact with the dead around the same time of year. Some people from all over believe if you were born on Halloween you had the ability to see spirits year round, back then people thought this ability was both a curse and a blessing. 

 

Wearing Scary Costumes

 

People wore scary costumes to avoid being terrorized by evil spirits that walked the earth during the Samhain festival. Some Celtic people would have certain designs on their costumes for people to tell the difference between real evil spirits and the Celts people. Throughout the years people began to believe that the scary costumes started to bring the evil spirits instead of warding them off. 

 

Trick or Treating

 

There are lots of different beliefs on how trick or treating started and the history behind it, however, it originated with the Celtic people just as everything else did. It started because they would put food outside for the spirits walking the earth on that day. After some time people began using their warding-off costumes to trick people and they took the food that was set out for the spirits. 

 

Black Cats

 

The superstition that black cats are bad luck and a symbol of the devil dates back to the Middle Ages. For the Celts, black represented death, it wasn’t helpful when those accused of being witches had the lovely black felines as pets. People started to associate black cats with witches as well as the devil, and this led to a series of unfortunate events for our dark furry friends. To this day black cats are mistreated and are symbolized as bad luck; some people even hunt and kill black cats. 

 

Candy Corn 

 

Candy corn was originally called “chicken feed” and a company in Philadelphia created it in the 1880s, however, it didn’t become super popular until the late 1890s when a company named Goelitz brought the idea back. Candy corn became officially associated with Halloween in the 1950s when trick or treating was at its peak. 

 

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About the Contributor
Audrie, Managing Editor
Audrie is a 17-year old senior at Roosevelt High School. They were born and raised in Northeast Portland and have been a writer for Voices of Roosevelt for 2 years.
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