Pumpkins and candy, that cool autumn breeze and falling leaves, and the tiny little witches, super heroes, and ghosts that roam the streets. Halloween is a fun time of year. The celebration of… well, what is Halloween exactly? How did we come into a tradition of dressing up, knocking on a stranger’s door, and asking for candy, anyways?
Halloween started over 2,000 years ago, as a celebration of the new year, which for the Celts (ancient Ireland, UK, and northern France) started on November 1. They held a huge festival called the Festival of Samhain to rejoice the end of the harvest season and sadly bring in the cold, dark winter season. 2,000 years ago, this season was known for death, especially in the harshest of winters when survival was tough!
The Celts believed that on October 31, the night before the new year, the netherworld opened up and many ghosts and spirits joined them on the streets, some of them haunting their harvests and crops! To prevent these spirits from possessing them, the people would create a hug bonfire and everyone would dress up in costumes and make tons of noise, dancing around the fire, to scare off the evil spirits.
Eventually, the Roman Empire took control of the Celtic territory and by the 9th Century, Christianity became the primary religion of the region, mixing with the ancient Celtic culture. Ultimately, the church created a day specifically to honor the dead, known as All Souls’ Day or All-hallowmas, which was mostly created to replace the festival of the dead through a more religious-based holiday. With many of the same ceremonies, including bonfires, parades, and dressing-up, the day became more of a celebration rather than survival. Over time, October 31st became known as All-hallows Eve, which is where we get Halloween from today.
As colonies began to form in America, Halloween traditions followed. People held parties where they would all sing and dance, share stories of the dead, and celebrate the harvest. As the populations continued to grow, only those who could afford such parties continued to have them!
Sometime towards the end of World War II, many people could not afford to celebrate Halloween and host or even attend these parties. That is when the idea of Trick-or-Treating came in. The idea was for all people, especially children, to be able to celebrate the ancient traditions of dressing up and celebrating the harvest. Families who could afford small treats would light a candle on Halloween and children could parade through the neighborhood in their costumes to collect them. This idea took off and now is a widely celebrated holiday across the nation, stuffing our pillowcases with chocolates and candies galore!
It is definitely a fun time of year, whether you go to your local trunk-or-treat at church or knock on the doors of your neighborhood, or maybe you choose not to celebrate the holiday at all. Either way, we feel blessed at Falling Creek for the beautiful autumn we have had and are excited to welcome in the winter! We know that following winter is that warm sun which summer camp centers itself on!
Here is an idea to leave you with! If you feel overwhelmed by the calories collected in your children’s bags, discuss with them what a good amount of candy to keep is and then have them choose a place to donate the rest to. You could put them in little baggies and take them to a local shelter or nursing home!
Happy Halloween! Have a safe, wonderful, and fun weekend!