Halloween is full of costumes, sweets, trick-or-treating, terrifying haunted houses, pumpkins and ghosts. But just where did Halloween come from?
The word ‘Halloween’ is derived from ‘All Hallows Eve’, the day before ‘All Hallows Day’ which is also known as ‘All Saints Day’ (Hallow is an archaic English word for Saint).
It was thought that souls are able to cross the threshold and wander the Earth on the 31st October in the hope that their souls will be rescued so they can enter heaven or even to visit living family members. But evil spirits can also cross this threshold to cause havoc amongst the living.
Many traditions have developed from Halloween including apple bobbing, ‘trick or treating’, wearing scary costumes, scaring others, pumpkin carving and Jack-o’-lanterns.
‘Trick or Treating’ started when families baked pastries called ‘Soul Cakes’ which they gave out to people and in return asked them to pray for their relatives that passed away. It is believed that asking strangers to pray can help a soul’s journey to heaven. Another reason ‘Trick or Treating’ became a tradition, is that some believed that giving food from their homes will prevent ghosts entering their homes.
Costume dressing originated in Europe, particularly Celtic countries. They felt that winter was a frightening time due to the cold temperatures and the darkness, and that ghosts were likely to be encountered. Therefore, masks and costumes were worn so the ghosts would not recognise them as living beings and would leave them alone.
As the centuries have passed, Halloween has kept its scary themes but has developed into a holiday for people to get together to celebrate and have fun.