Halloween then vs. now

From Issue 3


Photo courtesy of Riley Spivey

The ghost of Riley Spivey

Halloween is a holiday everyone knows and loves. There is trick or treating for children and costume parties for adults, but where did it all start? 

The holiday originated from the Celtic festival Samhain. The Celtic people, who lived over 2,000 years ago, in what is now modern day Ireland and the United Kingdom; would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off evil spirits and ghosts. The celebration marked the end of summer and the beginning of harvest season; it was associated with the dark, cold winter months. 

These months were closely associated with human death when the boundary between life and death became blurred. On the night of October 31, the Celts celebrated Samhain, which is when it was believed that the spirits crossed over to the living world. 

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated the second of November as a time to honor saints, known as All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day had many traditions similar to Samhain such as big bonfires, parades, and dressing up as saints, angels, and devils. People believed that impersonating spirits, such as angels or devils would protect them from the evil spirits. All Saints Day came to be known as All-hallows, or All-hallowmas from the Middle English word alholowmesse meaning “All Saints’ Day.” Soon, All Saints’ Day was incorporated into Samhain and became commonly known as All Hallows Eve.

Over time, All Hallows Eve became the Halloween people know and love today. Modern-day Halloween traditions include trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes with friends, watching scary movies, and carving pumpkins. Jordan Eduardo says her favorite tradition is “pumpkin carving and pumpkin fighting.” While Gracie Atkinson’s favorite thing to do is” dress up and go to parties on Halloween night.”   Some traditions have changed and the meaning of the holiday has differed over the years, but Halloween has always been a celebration for everyone and a night of fright.