By Ashliana Rodriguez
Halloween, also known as All-Hallows Eve, originated 2,000 years ago by the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain in Ireland, the UK and Northern France. Celebrating the New Year and the day of the dead, Celtics believed the ghost of the dead returned to the land of the living. The Celtics built bonfires to burn sacrifices such as crops and animals to the Celtic deities. They wore costumes such as animal heads and skins and tried to tell one another’s fortune. When night came they relit the bonfire to protect them from the winter that was coming.
When Christianity spread through the Celtic lands, it was believed that the Christians tried to replace the festival with a church stationed holiday. The Christians had a similar holiday to the Celtics festival, but it was held on Nov. 2 called All Souls Day. They dressed up as saints, devils and angels while having parades and bonfires. Additionally, there was All Saints Day, which was held on Nov. 1, the night before the Celtic festival of Samhain. Eventually, All Saints Day turned into All-Hallows Eve, and finally, Halloween. By this point, Halloween was known throughout all of Europe, and Europeans immigrating to America brought the idea of Halloween with them.
Protestants were skeptical of Halloween, so the holiday was limited throughout the colonies. It became more common in Maryland and Southern colonies. The American Indians were there when the Europeans immigrated, so the two cultures combined their versions of Halloween. By the nineteenth century, immigrants spread throughout America. Americans took the idea of dress up and going door to door asking for food and money from the English and Irish, which is now known as “trick-or-treat.”
Halloween eventually turned into more of celebration of parties and handing out candies, losing its religious and superstitious aspects. It has evolved throughout the years from celebrating the change of seasons to dressing up and collecting candy.
Today, Halloween is the country’s second largest commercial holiday.