10 Things You Didn't Know About Halloween
You've probably already bought your Halloween costume, but have you ever wondered why we dress up each year? Where did trick-or-treating come from, anyway? Check out these 10 Things You Didn't Know about Halloween!
It Started as Samhain
Halloween has been traced all the way back to an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in,) that took place 2,000 years ago. Samhain was observed with large bonfires and the wearing of costumes, much like Halloween today.
It Marked the Start of the New Year
Celts observed the New Year on Nov. 1, just after the harvest and before the winter. As winters were dark and cold, the Celts associated this time with death, and it was believed that on Samhain, which took place Oct. 31, the dead were able to return as ghosts.
The Nature of Its Ghostly Origin is Unclear
There is some discrepancy as to the relationship between ghosts and the holiday. Some people believe that bonfires were intended to ward off ghostly guests and that costumes were worn so that the Celts would not be mistaken as ghosts when they left their homes. Others say that the Celts actually meant to attract the supernatural beings because their presence was necessary in order for druids to tell prophecies.
It’s Had at Least Six Different Names Since Its Inception
Over the years, Samhain saw a lot of influence. Altered several times throughout the last 2,000 years, the celebration would later include Roman holiday Feralia and a celebration of Goddess Pomona, and it evolved into such holidays as All Christian Martyrs’ Day and All Saints’ and Martyrs’ Day under the Catholic church; All Souls’ Day, All Hallows or All Hallowmas under the Christian church.
These were observed on Nov. 1, with the original day of Samhain, Oct. 31, known as All Hallows Eve. Aren’t you glad we can just call it Halloween now?
Trick-or-Treating Developed from a Combination ofAll Souls' Day Practices
Today’s trick-or-treating comes from the holiday’s historic practices of souling and guising, added by the Christians to All Martyrs' Day. Souling took place when the poor begged for food from strangers in exchange for prayers over the giver’s deceased relatives. Guising occurred when young, costumed people would accept wine, food and money in exchange for things like singing and poetry recitation.
Americans Put the "Trick" in Trick-or-Treat
The idea that a trick is equivalent to a treat developed after Halloween made its way to America. Though it did not take well with colonies that held strict protestant values, the holiday gained traction in Maryland and other southern colonies. Though several pre-existing traditions survived the trip to New England, many new ones were developed. Most of the new practices placed a larger focus on mischief and led Halloween to become a holiday of pranks and tricks.
It Got Too Scary
After becoming a nationally recognized holiday in America in the late 1800s, many newspapers and city officials advised citizens to remove the scary elements of the holiday from their celebrations, creating a child-friendly holiday that everyone could enjoy. It was here that many of the holiday’s original religious elements were lost, and it became a secular, community-based holiday.
Modern Trick-or -Treating Didn’t Emerge Until the 1950s
As a result of the baby boom, Halloween saw a resurgence of trick-or-treating, which had previously tapered off. This presented a much-needed alternative to the previous celebration of throwing neighborhood parties in community centers as the population had outgrown them.
It’s America’s Second Largest Commercial Holiday
Each year, Americans spend money on costumes, candy, decorations and more for Halloween. In 2015, Halloween sales topped $6.9 billion nationwide, ranking Halloween the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.
Harley Quinn is Expected to be This Year's Most Popular Costume
Topping Google trends, female comic book villain Harley Quinn is the projected most popular costume for 2016. Quinn was also listed in USA Today's list of top costumes for the year, along with superheroes, presidential candidates, Pikachu, hippies, and Snapchat themes.