History Of Halloween

October 31, 2013 by  

History Of Halloween, Halloween, a holiday originating from ancient pagan customs, has turned into a celebration for kids to dress up as their favorite superhero and adults to do the same. Just how did a Gaelic pagan holiday turn into such a colorful holiday? We take a look at the history of Halloween and its customs and traditions.
Halloween can be traced back 2,000 years to an Oct. 31 Gaelic festival called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic. The new harvest year was considered to be on Nov. 1. The Gaelic Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. The night of October 31 was believed to be the day the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is a primarily Mexican holiday that celebrates family and friends who have died. The celebration takes place on October 31 in connection with the Christian holiday of All Hallow’s Eve. Scholars trace the origins of the holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Axtec festival.

In this photo: People gather around the graves of their loved ones at the Virgen de Lourdes cemetery where relatives converge to honor friends and family who have passed, marking the Day of the Dead holiday, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012. The holiday honors the deceased on Nov. 1, coinciding with All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2.

Detroit Devil’s Night
By the late 1800s, the tradition of playing pranks on Halloween was well-established.
The night before Halloween, October 30th, became a night of deadly and scary pranks in Detroit where Devil’s Night flourished in the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Arsons in the city on Devil’s Night reached a peak of more than 800 in 1984, and 500 to 800 fires in the three days and nights before Halloween in a typical year. The tradition has tapered off. Fewer and fewer fires are seen each year. But with each new year, comes tense times in the city as residents wonder if the fires will start up again.

Dressing up as ghosts or witches became fashionable as the holiday became more widespread and more commercialized. With the arrivale of mass-manufactured costumes came mass looks. Costumes have greatly expanded beyond monsters to include everything from superheroes to princesses to politicians.

Black Cats
Often used as symbols of bad luck, black cats grace many Halloween decorations. The black cat’s bad reputation dates back to the Dark Ages, when witch hunts were commonplace.

The name “jack-o’-lantern” is of British origin and dates from the 17th century, when it literally meant “man with a lantern” (i.e., a night watchman). It was also a nickname for the natural phenomenon known as ignis fatuus (fool’s fire) or “will o’ the wisp,” the mysterious, flickering lights sometimes seen at night over wetlands and associated in folklore with fairies and ghosts playing pranks on travelers.

In olden times, it was believed that during Samhain, the veil between our world and the spirit world was thinnest, and that the ghosts of the deceased could mingle with the living. The superstition was that the visiting ghosts could disguise themselves in human form, such as a beggar, and knock on your door during Samhain asking for money or food. If you turned them away empty-handed, you risked receiving the wrath of the spirit and being cursed or haunted.

Masquerade Balls
Today Halloween is becoming an adult holiday. Halloween parties and masquerades are more popular than ever with pop culture icons becoming favorite Halloween costumes.

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