Origin of Halloween: How did it Start?
In this article we will present the origin of the Halloween party. Many people all over the world think that this holiday originated in the U.S.A. but we will reveal the true origins of one of the most popular holidays in the world.
Samhain - The origin of Halloween
The origin of Halloween is in fact a Celtic pagan festival called "Samhain" which dates back to about 2500 BC. This festival took place for 3 days during the Celtic New Year. The Celtic New Year is on November 1st. It symbolizes the end of summer, harvest and the beginning of winter. This time of the year was also associated with the dead. The Celts believed that on the day before the New Year, the boundary between the earthly world of the living and that of the dead became non-existent. Thus the ghosts and souls of the dead could return to earth to haunt them. The purpose of these festivities was to calm the spirits of the dead while praying to the gods that the winter would not last too long.
Course of the Samhain festival
As said before, the festival lasted 3 days. The first day was to honor the heroes, the second was to celebrate the dead while the third was to gather around a banquet.
Druids lit a large fire and burned offerings and made animal sacrifices to ask the Celtic gods that their crops last until the end of winter. At this celebration, the inhabitants dressed in animal skins and masks. They also offered sweets to the spirits to appease them while dancing and singing. It was a joyful celebration. The presence of the spirits facilitated the communication of the Druids with nature and allowed them to make predictions of the future.
But then, where did these roots lead to the current October 31st festival that we know?
Christianity and Halloween
In the 9th century, with the arrival of the Romans in the British Isles, missionaries wanted to convert the population to Christianity. They soon realized that it was easier to combine Roman and local cultures rather than forcibly impose Christianity. The date of All Saints Day was changed by Pope Gregory IV from November 4th to November 1st in the year 840. All Souls Day (October 31st) was introduced into Christianity more than 300 years later. This day takes up the Celtic traditions of Samhain while removing animal sacrifices. It was later named All Hallow Eve. Many people celebrate the Day of the Dead on All Hallow's Day (November 1st), but it is actually the day before All Hallow Eve that turned into Halloween. This is how the Celts were able to be converted while keeping part of their tradition.
Celebration during the 19th Century
At the beginning of the 19th century they celebrated the harvest but still not Halloween. It wasn't until the second half of the 19th century, after the arrival in the United States of nearly 2 million Irish people following the great famine in Ireland, that the celebration of harvests was transformed into the modern Halloween we know today. Having brought their traditions with them, they mixed with existing traditions, which gave birth to the tradition of Jack 'O’ Lantern. Jack O'Lantern which was originally carved from a turnip and not a pumpkin.
At the end of the 19th century, Halloween was present all over the country and was used to gather people around a party so that everyone could have fun together. That's when Halloween became the holiday we all know. We dressed up in monster costumes, witch costumes, grim reaper costumes and many others to go door to door asking for candy and saying: ''Trick or Treat''. We would also tell horror stories to scare each other. With time, this festival becomes more and more turned towards children.
Traditions may vary slightly from city to city, so we will give you an example from the city of Los Angeles:
Decoration of the house
The decoration of the house is often done with skulls, bats and cobwebs to create a dark environment.
The decorations of the garden are very variable. A lot of creativity competes in this event. The most common decorations are skeletons, skulls, ghosts of course pumpkins and candles.
Halloween costumes vary widely. From ridiculous costumes to monster cosplay to the horrible representation of death. The Grim Reaper, Mexican skull paintings and zombies are by far the most appreciated.
Bake monster cookies
It is customary to prepare cookies and other cakes with a monstrous appearance. Cookies with eyes, brain-shaped jelly and other appetizing dishes.
Making of Jack O'Lantern
The making of the famous Halloween pumpkin is a real ritual. Some families get together to prepare pumpkins in a very festive atmosphere. They are usually prepared only a few days before October 31st to avoid them rotting.
Making a gingerbread haunted house
Some people like to prepare pretty gingerbread haunted houses as a treat. However, this is not a very common practice.
The pumpkin patch is a kind of market with the animations for children. It is the best place to find your pumpkins for Halloween.
Mr bones is a pumpkin patch where some Hollywood celebrities love to go.
Trunk or treat
Trunk or treat is an event where you decorate your car for the occasion. The children being disguised, they go from car to car to ask for sweets.
Halloween horror night
The very famous Hollywood studio organizes every year a night of horror. If you are passing through Los Angeles you will not be disappointed.
Knott's scary farm
If you want to scare yourself in a theme park, you've come to the right place. One of the best horror attractions! If you are brave enough here is waiting for you.
Queen Mary dark harbor
It is the annual attraction of the Queen Mary. The legend of the haunted boat is very real. Are you ready for the unique experience? Animation guaranteed!
West Hollywood Halloween Parade
The largest parade in the United States. If you are in the region it is one of the events not to be missed. It has a perfect festive atmosphere to get together with friends.
Films inspired by Halloween
- Monster House
- The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton
- Hocus Pocus (a classic)
- Halloween Franchise
- Friday 13th
To conclude, the Halloween celebration is a party that brings together small and large in joy and good humor. It extends more and more beyond borders. We encourage you to enjoy this holiday with your family and friends or why not dress yourself showing the different side of you. This day is often associated with the Day of the Dead in Mexico. If you don’t know what Day of the Dead is, you should read our article and discoveron the origins of the Day of the Dead by yourself.