Many people say that Halloween is their favorite holiday. They love dressing up and pretending to be creature to celebrate the occasion. They love decorating their homes with many creepy things. They even love handing out trick or treat candy to all the neighborhood kids. But, do they or you realize why we really celebrate Halloween?
Firstly, you should understand that today’s Halloween is a mixture of several different ancient religious beliefs, along with many archaic traditions. These beliefs came from a number of different sources including: mainly Roman Catholicism and other European folk traditions. It is the mixture of these traditions plus many new ones that have resulted with the Halloween we know today.
The majority of people will say that Halloween originates from the ancient times as a day that the dead could walk the Earth. The ancient Celtics, over two thousand years ago, would have bon fires and wear costumes in hopes of warding off these ghosts. They believed that these ghosts could cause all types of damage, even damage to their crops. They also believed that during this time the Celetic Priests were able to make predictions about the future. The presence of these spirits gave them this ability. This brought the Celictics newfound comfort during the hard winter that was approaching. In celebration of the rising of the dead and the powers the priests had, bonfires were burnt, animals were sacrificed and costumes were worn.
The Romans celebrated the passing of the dead on the day known as “Feralia.” Feralia was celebrated in late October. The second day they celebrated The Goddess of Fruit and Trees, “Pommona.” A symbol of the goddess’s generosity was the apple. It is from this celebration that we get the tradition of bobbing for apples.
In the 800’s, Pope Boniface IV, initiated what is now known as All Saint’s Day. This is a day in which the saints and martyrs are honored. It was his hope to sanctify the pagan holiday with a Christian one.
When the Europeans came to America, they arrived with many different Halloween traditions. Some of these people came with the tradition of wearing Halloween costumes. These and other European traditions began to blend with the beliefs of the Native Americans and a new Halloween was formed. These first Halloweens were celebrated with play parties, harvest festivals, ghost stories, fortune telling, singing, and dancing.
In the 1800’s, Halloween’s traditions shifted again. With America’s population increasing along with the rising population of cities, neighborhoods began to hold massive Halloween parties. It was then that the Holiday became most community centered.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, communities began having Halloween parades. Unfortunately, there was much vandalism involved and some community leaders began to suggest that the holiday only be celebrated by children. It was in the 1950s that the holiday of Halloween became the child oriented celebration that it is today.
Today, Halloween has become an extremely popular holiday. There is an estimated 6.9 billion dollars spent on this holiday annually, making it the second highest commercial holiday.
-by Evan Tidwell