Do you know the history of Halloween? It has many facets, and much of it intersects with Christian history. Below are 8 facts that explore in depth how we get some of our traditions. This information comes from the All About … and Grace to You websites.
- Hallow is from the same word as “holy” and e’en is a contraction of “evening.” This is where we get the term Halloween, which means “all hallows eve.” This is the day before All Saint’s Day.
- The original pagan holiday was well-established and a big deal to new Christian converts. The organized church saw holidays such as this as a stumbling block to faith, so leaders would align religious holidays with pagan holidays.
- In the year 835, Pope Gregory the Fourth moved the celebration for all saints from May 13 to Nov. 1. The night before (Oct. 31) became known as All Hallows Eve or “holy evening,” now known as Halloween.
- As you might guess, the history of trick-or-treating also comes from ancient celebrations. Going door to door to collect candy started hundreds of years ago, with farmers in Ireland who would go to neighbors asking for food and materials for the village’s bonfire and feast. Later, Catholic immigrants brought the term trick-or-treating with them.
- Another way trick-or-treating became known was related to people believing spirts stayed on earth until they had the proper sendoff with treats, possessions, wealth, food and drinks. Spirts who were not “treated” well “tricked” those who neglected them.
- The costume tradition came from people dressing up in costumes to scare away the spirts. Others believe that dressing like a spirt would trick the wandering spirts.
- The image of death represented by skeletons, skulls, and the color black came from Celtic people. At the end of the year they prepared for winter by harvesting the crops, slaughtering animals, and culling the herds. Life in the winter often brought darkness and death, with shorter days and longer nights. It added depression around this area which led to many suicides. Also during this time there was a lot of illness going on which added to the death rate.
- The Irish came up with the pumpkin carving tradition, but it all started with a turnip. They carved the turnips and placed candles in them to scare off evil spirts. When they came to America, they discovered pumpkins as a larger substitute.
Halloween has many Christian roots as well as many traditions passed down for hundreds of years. Whether it be pumpkin carving, dressing up, or watching your favorite Halloween movie, we hope you have a fun and safe Halloween.