If you really *do* want to cue the spooky sound effects just to set the mood while you read, I have just the thing...
The Ancient History of Halloween
About 2000 Years Ago
But the Celts also believed the presence of spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to see into the future. These prophecies became a great source of comfort during their long, cold winters. During Samhain, the Druids built great bonfires and the people gathered around wearing costumes of animal heads and skins to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. Once the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires from the remains of the bonfire which they believed would help protect them through the coming winter.
By this date, the Roman Empire had conquered most of the Celtic territory and would continue to rule for approximately four hundred years. During that time, two festivals of Roman origin became combined with the traditional Celtic Samhain. The first of these was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans honored the dead. The second was to honor the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona, whose symbol was the apple. Two thousand years later that tradition is present in “bobbing” for apples that is still practiced today at Halloween parties.
May 13, 609 A.D.
Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to honor Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of "All Martyrs Day" was born in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.
9th Century, A.D.
Though the celebration of Halloween was frowned on in colonial New England because of the strict Protestant beliefs, Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. Soon European ethnic customs began to blend with Native American traditions, and a colonial version of Halloween began to take shape. The first celebrations included public "play parties" to celebrate the harvest, where stories of the dead would be shared and fortunes were told, along with singing and dancing. The telling of ghost stories was also a popular activity.
Halloween began to be a holiday that was more community-centered with neighborhood get-togethers rather than focusing on spirits, pranks and bonfires. By the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the usual way to celebrate. Games, foods of the season and festive costumes were a big part of the celebration. Parents were urged to remove anything “frightening” or “grotesque” from the Halloween celebration. Halloween soon lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones.
1920s - 1930s
By the mid-century, leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday mainly for the young of age. The high numbers of young children due to the post-war "baby boom" made the celebrations popular, and they were often held in classrooms or homes.
Americans spend an estimated $6 billion each year on the Halloween celebrations, candy, costumes and decorations, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.
I hope you've enjoyed this quick tour of Halloween History down through the centuries. Here's a musical blast from the past that celebrates a slightly more modern version of all things Halloweenish.
And because it's almost Halloween, I have a very special TREAT for you!
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If you celebrate October 31st,
then however you observe it,
have a frightfully fun Halloween!
...and have a great week!