Its October! What does that mean? It means that Halloween is just around the corner.
Halloween is a very, very, old holiday that came from Europe and is now very popular in America.
Today we are going to learn about the history of Halloween and also how it is celebrated here in America today.
Stay tuned if that’s interesting for you!
Halloween is so old, that it existed before Christianity came to Europe.
That’s pretty old! The ancient Celts who were pagans celebrated a holiday called Samhain. During this day, the ancient Celts believed that the devision between the spirit world and the human world was weaker than normal.
Meaning that spirits and the dead could come and haunt the living. So, for this reason, villagers would leave out gifts for the spirits, and t hey would also dress up in costumes for several different reasons, one of which was to confuse the spirits, and some of the others were more ceremonial.
These might sound like strange traditions, but they are the ancestors to our modern day Halloween traditions.
Later, Pope Boniface IV, yes I know his name is weird, he changed the holiday from Samhain to All Saints Day.
In other words, he “Christianized” the holiday. Meaning, he changed the holiday from being pagan to being Christian. On all saints day, all the martyrs of the Catholic church were remembered.
Later, this was extended to remember all the saints on this day: All Saints Day!
Halloween did not become popular in America until a little bit later. It became more and more popular as more and more Europeans traveled from Europe to America to make their home there.
During the eighteen hundreds, people did not really like Halloween’s historical dark focus on witchcraft, ghosts, evil spirits and so forth and so they decided to change the focus of Halloween from those things to more family, friends and community.
They would have lots of parties where family, friends and community would get together, play games eat good food, dress up, and generally enjoy time together. By this point trick or treating was not very popular yet.
In the 1950s this trend of keeping Halloween away from witchcraft continued. Halloween was a children’s holiday, more so than even before, and trick or treating was now popular.
Children would dress up, and go from house to house asking for candy. Parties were popular, but instead of them taking place in public areas, they would take place in homes and would be more focused on children.
Today, as Christianity in America has declined, Halloween is slowly going back to its roots and is more focused on spooky scary things like ghosts and witchcraft.
People will decorate their houses several weeks before Halloween with black cats, spiders, ghosts, graveyards, skeletons. Stores will start to sell costumes, candy and house decorations at the end of September or the beginning of October.
People will buy pumpkins to make jack o’lanterns. To make a jack o’lantern, you take a pumpkin and cut off the top.
Next, you scape out the inside so all you have left is the rind or outside of the pumpkin. Basically, it makes like a big orange bowl with a lid.
Next you take your knife and carve out a design or a face on the pumpkin, going all the way through the rind. You want this because it will be a lamp.
When you are done, you will put a candle inside, and most people put their jack o’lantern on their front porches, or will put them in their houses as decorations.
Children will dress up as something scary like witches or zombies, or they will dress up like their favorite movie or book character. Really children can dress up however they want to.
There are no rules when it comes to Halloween costumes. Just find what works for you, and what you like. Some people go to a store and buy their costumes while other people like to make their own costumes at home.
We would call this a DIY Halloween costume. We often use this “DIY” whenever we are talking about making something yourself.
Once the kids are all dressed up, they will leave their homes and and they will go to other houses on the street or in nearby neighborhoods, knock on the doors, and when the inhabitance of the home open the door children will yell “Trick or Treat” and people will give them candy or other goodies.
Halloween has shifted in recent years from being exclusively a children’s holiday to being more inclusive of adults and older teens.
Oftentimes there will be parties thrown for adults and older teens where people will dress up and eat Halloween themed food and candy. Oftentimes they will play games at these parties as well.
Some people in America don’t like to celebrate Halloween because of religious conviction. These people are usually Christians and don’t like the emphasis of witchcraft that Halloween now carries.
For this reason, churches will often put on a harvest festival or a fall festival for children to come to, play games, eat candy and still have a fun evening while not participating in trick or treating or other types of Halloween festivities
Other Christians, specifically Protestants, celebrate Reformation day.
What is Reformation Day? Reformation day is a holiday that takes place on Halloween. Five hundred years ago on Halloween, Martin Luther, no not Martin Luther King Jr., a different Martin Luther, started the Protestant Reformation in Europe.
So a lot of Protestant churches will have a church party where people eat good food, play games, maybe even dress up like people from the 1500’s and generally remember the start of the Reformation.
As you can see Halloween has a long history. It has changed a lot over the years. But more recently it has started to be closer to its original form than in the past.
As Christianity in America becomes less common Halloween’s focus on witchcraft, ghosts and evil spirits makes it more similar to how the ancient Celts celebrated it many years ago.
I recommend that you come and visit America during this time so that you can experience this fun holiday for yourself. It’s definitely a very spooky experience.