As many countries around the world celebrate Halloween today, we take a look at the history of the day – looking at just how it became the phenomenon that it has become. The day is mainly associated with activities like trick or treating, the carving of pumpkins into jack o’lanterns, horror stories and attending haunted locations among others. The day is usually observed by Western Christians, and features a religious background. So, let’s take a look… Happy Halloween!
At its simplest – Halloween means ‘Hallowed evening’. Many years ago, the Celts, who occupied parts of Britain and France celebrated the new year on November 1. There was a belief that October 31 was a day where the living and the dead combined. Later, the Christian church would celebrate ‘All Saint’s Day’ on November 1. This day had the intention of honouring all those that lost their life for their religion. This day was also called ‘All Hallows Day’, with October 31 referred to as ‘Hallows Eve’. Eventually, the word would morph into ‘Halloween’ which is where we have got the name from.
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The belief that the dead would rise remained for years. There was concern that the dead spirits would cause the living harm. To combat this, the living would dress up in costumes to help fight off the threat of the dead. This slowly became tradition – which has resulted in the contemporary tradition of dressing up for Halloween – whether this is through trick or treating or attending a party.
Emigrating Europeans would bring this to the United States, where the action of dressing up on October 31 became increasingly popular. Halloween has become an enormous commercial day in the US. The use of jack-‘o lanterns – which has become a profound part of Halloween, originated in the US, where pumpkins were in high quantity. This has been repeated in the United Kingdom and other Western nations.
So while the day may have lost its religious intentions, it is still a day that is celebrated in many countries. Nowadays, we commonly see children celebrating Halloween by going from house to house, where they undergo the ‘trick or treating’ activity. Adults will commonly attend a Halloween party. In both cases, scary costumes are often worn. As you can see, many of the traditions that first saw the advent of Halloween continue to have an impact all these years later. However you plan on celebrating the day, from all of us at UniEel, have fun!