Halloween: a spooky history


Gideon Borean, Reporter

In the midst of some of the most celebrated holidays in the nation, Halloween is a favorite occasion for many sugar-hyped children. Children leave their homes in a rush, sweeping the streets for the best candy as their parents frantically chase after them. This mystical night is a time reserved for celebration and superstition, fun and fright, candy and cavities. But what is Halloween, really?

Halloween is a tradition that has existed for centuries. However, it hasn’t always been the sugar induced coma of a day people have come to know and love.

Halloween, as any holiday that stemmed from religion, is surrounded with much controversy. Despite not generally being associated with religion, that is what All Hallows’ Eve is all about. Originating mainly from the age-old Celtic celebration of Samhain, the widespread celebration of this day has left some people confused. “I never did it before I was here in America…” stated Senior, Sven Baron Krattinger.

Samhain is the Celtic celebration of the new year which spans two nights, October 31st to the 1st of November. Samhain gets it’s name from the druids Lord of Darkness, whose name literally translated means “Summer’s End”. It was believed that the vale between the realm of the living and the dead was so thin on this night, that spirits were able to cross back over and walk among them once again. During this time, the Celtic tribes would leave their homes dressed in animal heads and skins, hoping to avoid the attention of any malevolent spirits. finally the townspeople would gather round a bonfire and surrender portions of crops, livestocks and other valuables in hopes to please the deities that would reign for the following winter months.

A major step to turn this ancient festival into the beloved Holiday it is now known as was made by the Catholic church. Close to 1,500 years ago Pope Gregory III switched the date of the celebration of All Saints Day to coincide with Samhain. It’s remembrance was moved to November 1st in an attempt to distract people from the “pagan” practices of the Celtics and move people towards a “more civilized” religion. Eventually most of the original practices were turned into mere celebratory acts of honoring the dead, rather than of praising their “false God”.

Still, where does the candy come in? Over one quarter of the Candy sold in the U.S.A annually is purchased for Halloween. Not only is candy a major distraction from the darker sides of all Hallows’ Eve’s past, but it may have also come from another religious tradition. All Souls’ Day. This giving of treats was mostly practiced in England during a large parade, where children would go to houses begging for food. A small pastry, known as a Soul Cake, would be given to the children in hopes to encourage a sense of community and merriment.

Despite the questionable upbringing of this famed Holiday, many people have just associated it with a great time. “It just seems like a good way to get some candy!” continued Sven. “Honestly, I don’t have a meaning associated with Halloween… To me, it’s just a fun holiday to watch my kids dress up and have a good time pretending.” relayed Mrs. Kate Chan, a Teacher at Olympia and local parent.

With knowledge such as this on the upcomings of the spookiest time of the year, many may think differently on the subject of Halloween. On the contrary, your opinion may not have been altered in the slightest. However you choose to take it, all Halloween is, well all it has become, is a time to have some fun. So whether you are out trick-or-treating, or just picking up a bag of candy to eat alone in your room, be sure to have a blast this Halloween.