History of Halloween

By Kelly Murphy
October 28, 2005

We all did it. We came home from school on that fall day, rushed through dinner, and ran upstairs to get ready. We applied face paint, zipped up costumes and made sure we didn’t lose that orange basket for all the candy we would receive and eat for the next two weeks. After a couple of pictures in the living room, we were out, rain or shine. It was Halloween, and we were going trick or treating.

No one ever really asks the question, “Where did Halloween come from?” It is an odd holiday unlike any other and its origins are just as strange and diverse as the actual dressing up in a costume and knocking on someone’s door, hoping they have Three Musketeers bars, as part of Oct. 31.

Halloween gets its origin from Europe, dating back many centuries ago, before the Romans adopted Christianity. The Roman where pagans and worshiped many gods and on Oct. 31, they had a special feast to honor the goddess of fruit trees, Pomona. Years later the Druids, who where an order of Celtic priests native to Britain, added the honoring of Samhain, the lord of the dead, to the feast. The Druids taught that on the night of Oct. 31 the lord of the dead summoned the dead and wicked spirits and souls that were believed to live in the bodies of animals. They truly believed that ghosts, witches, fairies and elves would come out to harm them. The Druids feared these spirits and on the 31st, they sacrificed their gods, hoping they would protect them. The Druids also considered cats to be the reincarnated souls of people who had been evil in their past life and that is why it is believed that ghosts, witches and black cats are symbols of our modern day Halloween celebration.

But the story isn’t over yet. The middle ages approached and the Roman Catholic Church changed from pagan to Christianity and by doing so they kept all of the pagan holidays and considered them to now be Christian feasts. Christians tried to keep Oct. 31 holy. Now instead of praying to many gods, Christians honored the death of saints on Nov. 1 and called the new holiday “Day of All Saints,” making the prior night “All Hallow’s Evening,” which was abbreviated to Halloween.

We now know where the witches, ghosts and cats come from, but what about pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treating? Well, Google tells us that these traditions come from Ireland. Irish farmers would wander around the village begging for food telling people, “You treat me, or else I will trick you!”

And a poor man named Jack started the pumpkin carving trend. Jack was not allowed to enter heaven, due to the sins he had committed and unable to enter hell, due to the tricks he had played on the devil; therefore, he was condemned to wandering the earth with his lantern for eternity. The Irish feared Jack’s punishment causing them to hollow out pumpkins and place lights inside to scare evil spirits away.

Regardless of its historical context, Halloween is celebrated by millions across the world. Sophomore psychology major Lindsay Nave likes Halloween because she gets to “dress up as anything I want and also because I get as much candy as I can possibly eat,” Nave said, which is always a good thing.

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: Loquitur@yahoogroups.com. The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by Matt Schill

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Kelly Murphy

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap