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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • The history of Halloween

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  • I love Halloween. scary movies, costumes, candy, carving pumpkins. But how did it all begin? With a little Googling, I learned a lot of interesting stuff about this holiday.
     
    According to Wikipedia, Halloween dates back to the 16th Century from the ancient Gaelic Samhain festival. The word Samhain comes from the Celtic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the start of winter. It makes sense, because Oct. 31 is almost halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. On the old Celtic calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to Nov. 1 on our present calendar. The Celts believed at Samhain, ghosts of those who had died during the year were able to communicate with the living. In order to disguise oneself from the visiting spirits, people would dress up in costumes and go door-to-door during the festival and recite verses in exchange for food. I always thought the whole “trick or treat” aspect of Halloween was made up, but it’s pretty cool how it actually has to do with the history behind it.
     
    The word Halloween means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening,” which comes from the Scottish term for “All Hallows’ Eve,” the night before All Hallows’ Day, which we now call All Saints’ Day. Confused yet? Well, All Souls’ Day is observed a day later, on Nov. 2, by most Catholics. The observance of this day is similar to what was observed at the Samhain festival, as far as the cleansing of the souls of the dead. Over time, Samhain, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day merged and helped create the modern Halloween.
     
    If you have ever heard of Samhainophobia, I am impressed. It’s the fear of Halloween. Now you know where the term “Samhain” comes from. Thankfully, I’m quite the opposite of having Samhainophobia. I have always loved the holiday. My best friend and I would always plan out our trick or treat strategy days before hand in order to collect the most candy. We always knew which neighborhoods gave away the most candy, and we were more efficient than walkers because we would bike around to each house. We also tried to trick or treat as long as we could throughout high school. We stopped when we realized we were much taller than most of the adults handing us candy at the door.

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