Many people today know and love our late October holiday of Halloween. Celebrated on October 31st, this holiday is the eve of All Saint’s Day (November 1st). We often see small children wearing adorable costumes — tiny witches, clowns, lions, fairies and other animals ring our doorbells to shout “Trick or Treat!” to demand candy. Every home has a glowing jack-o-lantern pumpkin sitting by its front doorstep. Adults may have slightly spookier celebrations in mind, as they visit a haunted house, try a séance or get a psychic reading on Halloween night.
As we prepare to celebrate Halloween, do you know where this unique holiday comes from? Why people actually celebrate Halloween in the first place?
If we just look at the name of the holiday “Halloween,” we are told a great deal about this special night. “Halloween” was abbreviated from “All Hallows’ Evening.” Many of us know that Halloween is held on the eve of All Saints’ Day, which could otherwise be called All Hallows’ Day.
Halloween first began as the Celtic festival best known as Samhain. Samhain was considered a time to celebrate the end of the harvest season and to prepare their supplies for the winter ahead. Samhain is also considered “The Celtic New Year.” “Samhain” is additionally the Gaelic name for November. The Celtic New Year was timed ideally to be celebrated near the autumnal equinox and also the winter solstice. October 31st turns out to be one of the best dates between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. In medieval Ireland, Samhain was considered to be a major festival of the year. It would often last for several days.
Festivals would be held during this time especially for Samhain for everyone to take part. Bonfires were a large part of these festivals. So was divination, as single men and women would look to divination methods to help them find out who they would marry. Farmers might look to divination to tell them what type of year they would have. Even today it is still quite popular to get a psychic reading – or to see a medium – on Halloween night. One of the reasons to see a medium on Halloween night is that it was also thought that on October 31st, the veil between the dead and the living simply did not exist. Because of the lack of a veil at this time, it was considered the reason for crops that were damaged or people who became sick during this time. To celebrate Samhain, people would wear costumes and masks to imitate those evil spirits thought to come during this time.
Halloween is celebrated in many parts of the world, including England, Wales, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. While Halloween was not actually a true holiday until late in the 19th century, Trick or treating became quite popular in the 1930s. Halloween has become one of the most popular holidays for adults and children alike. We love the mystical, magical – and slightly spooky effect that Halloween has always had on us!.