Today, Halloween is seen as a day to find just the right costume to wear and celebrate either by going trick or treating around the neighborhood or attending fun, Halloween parties. Even though witches and ghosts, (and even scary costumes,) are associated with Halloween,these type of celebrations are much different than how Halloween was originally celebrated. Here is a look back at some of the origins of Halloween.
Pagan Festival of Fire
Halloween began as a pagan festival of the dead and was celebrated in Great Britain. It was commemorated with four fire festivals in ancient times. In Ireland, it is still known as Samhein or La Samon from the name of one of the fire festivals. It marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter. Magical and mystical creatures were believed to appear on that day.
Day of the Dead
Although its roots were in Great Britain, Halloween was celebrated throughout Europe and became the Day of the Dead. Besides marking the beginning of winter, Halloween was thought to be a day when spirits of loved ones who had crossed over would return and visit with their family and loved ones. Food and beverages would be offered to the spirits.
In Scotland, it was believed that Halloween was a night when the veil of our world and the veil of another were thin enough to allow wiches riding on broomsticks to pass through into the human world. For many Europenas, to keep away demons and witches, fires were lit and people would dress in frightening costumes, (such as goblins,) and go from door to door singing and dancing. It was believed that by doing this, any evil creatures would stay away.
All Saints and All Souls Day
Halloween is the night before the Christian festival of All Saints Day in which all saints and martyrs are commemorated. On the following day, the Catholic Church recognizes All Souls Day. This is a day to pray for all souls who have died. Special masses are held in church to honor the dead.
For most people in the United States, today, Halloween is seen as a fun holiday and an excuse to throw parties, dress up in costumes and eats lots of candy. Although the idea of dressing in scary costumes is still part of the concept of Halloween, most of the rest of the original traditions are lost in the American society.