The Origins of Halloween

Katie Tipton, Staff Writer

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Fall is the start of many things. Cooler weather, fall festivals and pumpkin spiced coffee to name a few, but what a lot people think of when the leaves start to fall is Halloween. Some people who celebrate the holiday get the gist of how Halloween came to be, but not very many people know where Halloween’s roots lie. Sophomores Fatima Abuhaltam and Paige Beckwith knew a bit about Halloween’s history, with Abuhaltam saying, “They put out jack-o-lanterns to scare off demons.”  Beckwith said, “People would dress up to ward off demons.”

Halloween dates back to ancient Celtic times. The holiday was not called Halloween, but was known as the harvest festival Samhain and was celebrated on October 31, the day before the Celtic new year. People believed that the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead was weaker at the beginning of winter, and ghosts would be able to cross back into the world of the living. Many people feared that they would encounter these spirits if they left their homes at night, so they would wear masks and costumes to disguise themselves and to ward off any ghosts when they went out after dark.

As the years went on, more traditions were added to the celebration of Halloween such as trick-or-treating. The tradition of trick-or-treating is believed to have originated from the All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the parades, poor citizens would go begging wealthier people or families for food. Later, this tradition was taken up by children who would go to houses in their neighborhoods asking for food, ale, or money and would take what they received back home to their families.

Carving Jack O’ Lanterns is also an iconic tradition to Halloween. Carving fearsome faces into turnips and potatoes to scare off “Stingy Jack” was a practice that originated from Ireland. Legend has it that Jack was a man who tricked the devil twice, and  when Jack died, God didn’t want him in heaven and the devil was upset that he was tricked, so Jack was sent off into the night with a single burning coal to light his way, which he placed in a hollowed out turnip. Since Jack was doomed to walk the earth forever, the people of Ireland and Scotland began to make their own versions of Jack’s lantern to frighten him away from their homes.

Halloween is fast approaching, and even if it isn’t quite what it used to be, it’s still a fun and exciting holiday. As long as everyone stays safe while dressing up in fantastical costumes and chowing down on Halloween candy, this year’s celebration will hopefully be filled with fun memories for all.

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The Origins of Halloween