The History of Halloween

Haunted House

Halloween is one of our favorite nights of the year here at Doozy Cards, and it’s also considered one of the oldest continually celebrated holidays. People often debate the history of Halloween, but the themes of the changing seasons, the supernatural and dressing up in costumes are ones we find in most theories.

The name “Halloween” derives from the term “All Hallows Evening”, the day before Catholics in Northern Europe would celebrate All Saints Day on November 1, marking the end of summer, beginning around the 9th century B.C.E. The event was closely linked with the final harvest of the summer and likely dates back further than the somber All Saints vigils, which commemorated Christian saints and martyrs.

The ancient pagan holiday of Samhain or summers end, was celebrated on October 31st, when the Celts of Ireland, Scotland and northern France would celebrate the harvest with feasting, bonfires, sacrificial offerings and costumes worn to ward off ghosts who might otherwise damage crops.

When the Romans conquered the region around the 7th century B.C.E. they incorporated two of their own holidays into this end of summer festival: Feralia, which commemorated the passing of the dead, and the day to honor Pomona, goddess of fruit and trees. To this day we still practice one of the traditions of Pomona’s festival: bobbing for apples!

Trick-or-Treating is likely derived from the All Hallows Eve tradition when the poor would travel from house to house asking for assistance. When immigrants travelled to the United States from Ireland, England and elsewhere during the 19th century, they brought with them the old custom of dressing up and going door-to-door for food or money.

While some of the history of Halloween may remain somewhat shrouded in mystery, thankfully we’ve continued celebrating the holiday with fun of spooky costumes. trick-or-treating and of course, sending Halloween eCards! Let us know your favorite Halloween tradition in the comments section below.

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