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The History of Halloween: A Kid Friendly Approach

Updated on October 10, 2014

Halloween: A few Catholic holidays, and Halloween Came to be

Halloween, a holiday now affiliated with ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and more unfriendly creatures, actually had its start as a religious holiday. The word Halloween comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve, which actually takes place on November 1st instead of October 31st. All Hallows Day (also known as All Saints Day) is a Catholic holiday in honor of all the saints.

So how did Halloween as we know it spring from this Catholic Saints Day? In the Fifth Century B.C. in Ireland, the summer ended on October 31st, on the Irish holiday called Samhain (which is actually pronounced sow-en). Samhain is the Celtic New Year. The Celts believed that space and time were suspended on this night, allowing the dead spirits in limbo to mingle with the living. The living, who obviously did not want to be possessed by one of these wandering spirits, dressed up in costumes and paraded around their village trying to scare away any malcontented spirits.

Halloween has come a long way from nervous villagers running around trying to scare the dead. Now at parties, people bob for apples, have costume contests, and take children around their neighborhoods to collect candy and other treats. These Halloween traditions have unusual histories as well.

It's the Zombie Apocalypse

AHHHH! Zombies. Kids traditionally dress up, even  boys will wear make-up to create the right look!
AHHHH! Zombies. Kids traditionally dress up, even boys will wear make-up to create the right look! | Source
Great fun can come even with neighbors!
Great fun can come even with neighbors! | Source

Bobbing for Apples in Rome?

Bobbing apples originated in ancient Rome. The Romans adopted the Celts holiday in the First Century AD and added it to an October celebration of their own. This Roman holiday honored the goddess Pamona, who had power over fruit and trees. Her symbol was the apple.

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Trick or Treating

Trick-or-treating also has religious roots. This tradition originated from a 9th Century European custom called souling. On November 2nd (All Souls Day), Christians would walk around begging for “soul cakes,” square pieces of bread with coins baked inside. The more soul cakes a person collects, the more promises that person would make to pray for the giver’s dead relatives. (At the time, people believed that the dead remained in limbo and a prayer-even one made by strangers- would helpd the spiritis pass into Heaven). Poof! Trick-or- treating was born!

Did You Know?

The Irish brought Halloween to America in the 1840s!


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