Where Did Halloween Come From?
Halloween is an ancient Europeon tradition focused on remembering the dead. The origins are thought to have roots in ancient Pagan traditions. The festivals evolution is credited to the Christian religion. The celebration is known by many names, the easiest to understand is All Hallows’ Eve meaning All Saints Evening or the night preceding the feast marking the end of a harvest season.
Samhain was the celtic tradition where it was thought the transition from light to dark season was a thinning of the boundary between this world and the realm of deities. It was thought that the deities should be appeased for the people and their livestock to survive the winter. Offerings of food, drink, or meals were left out for the souls to find. Fire and later candles were thought to direct saints back to their earthly homes while offering protection against those killed through capital punishment, and the devil.
The History of Trick-or-Treating
Trick-or-treating is the Halloween custom of children going door-to-door, saying “trick or treat”, and receiving candy. The practice was popularized in what is now the United Kingdom and started during the 15th century in Scotland. Children and the poor would go door-to-door, sing prayer songs, or reenact parts of plays, sometimes dressed in costume. They would request soul cakes or money for their performance. The trick comes from a mostly idle threat, that if no treat is given the children may cause mischief to the homeowners. The general idea was to offer good fortune to the homeowners that gave and misfortune to those that didn’t give.
The earliest costumes were most likely Christian saints. After that, the traditional costumes were influenced by supernatural figures like ghosts, vampires, skeltons, and witches. Over time, with the popularization of Halloween in the United States, costumes started to include celebrities, fictional comic book characters, and generic heroes like ninjas and princesses. The growing popularity of Halloween costumes now also includes pets with pumpkins being the most popular, followed by hotdog, and bumblebee costumes.