The Haunting History of Halloween

Jocelyn Branca, Reporter

Halloween, a holiday loved by many, is arriving soon, and as time continues to pass the more the history of Halloween grows. Halloween originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain in Ireland; many people would wear costumes and have a bonfire to scare away the ghosts on October 31. However, on November 1, Pope Gregory the Third made Halloween a time to celebrate saints, and as time went on, more and more people incorporated Samhain traditions into All Hallows Eve. The Celts thought that the presence of the spirits of the otherworld made it easier to make predictions about the future. These people would dress up, mainly in animal skins to ward off any spirits, and would tell each other fortune around the bonfire, have a big feast of food, and make lanterns out of gourds.
However, Halloween started in Ireland, so how did this holiday venture towards America? The great American immigrant melting pot is the reason why Halloween is an American holiday. Neighbors would have parties and events to celebrate the harvest and share stories of the dead. In the nineteenth century, a huge wave of immigrants adventured to America and that was the point when Halloween was celebrated across the country. Fun fact! Ireland celebrates this holiday differently. In Ireland, they eat barmbrack bread which is a fruitcake containing coins and rings. These prizes inside the bread are supposed to tell a fortune such as a ring indicating marriage and the coin represents wealth!
Of course, we add our own traditions to Halloween more than how it was first celebrated like trick or treating and having actual costumes rather than wearing animal skins, but that’s the fun part of this holiday! For example, trick-or-treating in America started when poor people went to the wealthy’s houses and they received pastries, known as soul cakes, in exchange for the poor to pray for the house owners’ dead relative’s souls. On the other hand in Ireland and Scotland trick or treating was started with a tradition called guising where people would dress up in costumes and accept offerings from different households.
No matter how fun the history of Halloween seemed, it wasn’t all fun and games. Around the time the Great Depression came around, Halloween became more violent including vandalism, physical assaults, and acts of violence.
Halloween has become one of the most popular and celebrated holidays around the world. Halloween has found itself in family households and traditions, such as handing out candy to children and other superstitions.