Halloween Traditions


Halloween is believed to have originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain. People would light bonfires and put on costumes to fend off ghosts. Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as a day to honor all saints and martyrs in the eighth century. Known as All Saints Day, some of the traditions of Samhain were incorporated into the day. The night before was known as All Hallows’ Eve which evolved into Halloween.

Here’s how some of today’s traditions began.

Jack-o-lanterns originated in Ireland where they were made with turnips, not pumpkins. They’re based on a legend of a man named Stingy Jack who trapped the Devil and made him promise Jack would never go to Hell. But Jack died and found heaven didn’t want him either and he was condemned to wander the earth. Jack carried around in a turnip a lump of burning coal given to him by the Devil. People soon carved faces into gourds of their own to ward off evil spirits like Jack.

The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain marked the beginning of a new year. Bonfires were built to ward off the ghosts.

There are lots of ideas about where this tradition came from. The Celtic people would leave out food to satisfy the ghosts. In Scotland children and poor adults would go to homes in search of food in exchange for offering prayers said for the dead. In German-American communities children would dress in costumes and call on their neighbors to see if the adults could guess their identities. Children were rewarded with food or treats if no one could guess their identity.

Bobbing for Apples
Bobbing for Apples dates all the way back to ancient Rome and a festival in honor of Pamona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance.

Those are just a few of today’s Halloween traditions. What are your favorite customs and traditions?

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