By I. Doherty
There have been Halloween celebrations for over a thousand years. Originally a religious holiday, it gradually lost its religious overtones as it became more and more commercial throughout the years. Today, Halloween is seen as a fun occasion where people dress up and go trick or treating.
This holiday originated from Samhain, an ancient Celtic holiday that was celebrated on November 1st. People dressed up in costumes and set bonfires on that day in effort to fend of ghosts since it was thought that on that day the souls of the deceased returned to their homes. As a result, well-known Halloween cliches like witches, ghosts and goblins came to be associated with the occasion.
All Saints Day was established by Pope Boniface IV in the 7th Century CE and was first celebrated on May 13th. Pope Gregory III changed the holiday’s date to November 1st a century later, most likely as a Christian Replacement for the pagan celebration of Samhain. All Hallows Eve or Halloween came to be recognized as the day before the holy holiday.
As Irish and Scottish Communities revived the Old-World tradition of “guising” where a person would dress in costume and tell a joke, recite a poem, or do some other trick in exchange for a piece of fruit or treat, trick or treating, in which children dress up in costumes and solicit treats from neighbors came to be and became popular in the US in the early 20th century. Trick or treating for sweet became one of the most well-liked Halloween traditions by 1950, with yearly candy sales reaching $2.5 billion.
Despite having its roots in the Celtic regions of Ireland, the UK and France, the festival swiftly expanded to other continents. Though it was somewhat popular in the Southern colonies. The original American colonist in New England were banned to celebrate it for religious grounds. By the 1800s harvest festivals in the fall included elements of Halloween due to Irish immigrants who fled the Potato Famine and brought many Halloween customs that are still practiced today.