As the evenings grow colder, and the now rotting leaves slowly begin to fall, we fear the night more than usual. The exciting, and secular Halloween traditions have begun. For adults, Halloween usually consists of slasher flicks, elaborate haunted houses, sexy costumes, and great parties. Not the same for children, as Trick or Treating is a more innocent ritual. The dark and mystifying background of the Halloween tradition, however may not be as innocent.
The Celtics believed November 1st to be the start of a new year, and the beginning of Winter. The thought of Winter isn’t as frightening to us as it was to the Celtics. Over 2,000 years ago, the Celtics didn’t have the technology to brave a harsh winter, which was often coupled with human death. To add to the dread of the winter to come, the day before the official start of a new year on October 31st was a time where the spiritual plane was to collide with the living, and invoke fear throughout the Celtic communities. To appease these angry spirits, Celtics would leave food, and wine outside of their door step to keep them from destroying their crops, or freighting them. The manifestation of these spirits was also used by Celtic Priests to make predictions, and towering bonfires were eructed in the spirits honor. The expectations given by the priest would sometimes bring comfort to those who feared the mysterious winter.
Throughout time, Halloween kept its superstitious nature, but the traditions often varied. American Halloween Tradition is the one we have grown to love the most. Before the 19th Century, Halloween traditions were not very popular as strict Protestant beliefs made it difficult. But, by the middle of the 19th Century Halloween Festivities became part of community celebration where neighbors would share food, drink and spooky stories. While this began as an American Colonial tradition, it wasn’t long before the rest of the country was taking part in the Fall celebrations. In fact, without immigration we would not have the same Halloween traditions we enjoy today. When the Irish came to the United in 1846 to escape the potato famine, they brought with them the fun Halloween tradition of dressing up in costume and going house to house for food and money.
It is amazing the way old Halloween traditions were able to transform through time to better accommodate current customs. Instead of going house to house for food and money, children now “trick or treat” for candy. Bobbing for apples was once used by women to predict who their future husband would be, and is now a playful Halloween party game. The fearful spirits and demons that haunted the Celtics, now entertain us through horror films, and haunted houses.
The History of Halloween
October 11, 2017