Halloween 2017: History, significance and traditions of this spooky festivalUpdated: Oct 31, 2017 09:12 IST
Inspired by Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.(Shutterstock)
Each year, Halloween is celebrated October 31 in the US. However, this festival has its roots in European traditions. Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, whcih later came to be known as Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns with pumpkin. Around the world, as days grow shorter and nights get colder, people continue to usher in the festival with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
Trick or treat
Inspired by Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go from house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.
Soon Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parents help their children to dress up in scary costumes and celebrate with candies. In those days, children went from door to door asking for soul cakes. This tradition came into being because the festival was adapted by the church called as ‘souling’. Children asked for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the souls of friends and relatives.
By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties. However, vandalism soon started to plague celebrations.Town leaders managed to limit the vandalism and thus it evolved as a holiday mainly for the young. Even the centuries old practice of trick or treating was revived.
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First Published: Oct 31, 2017 08:53 IST