The history of Halloween – Origin of the Halloween party –

The celebration of Halloween has become something very traditional not only in the USA, but also this festivity has been exported to many other countries although its origin is not American at all. In On History we explain now what is the history of the day of the deadand the halloween customs and above all, what is the true origin of a festivity in which, in other countries, it seems that the memory of those who are no longer on the sidelines is honored? costumes and pumpkins.

Origin of the Halloween Story: Samhain Night

More than 2,000 years ago, the night of Samhainthe celts they turned off the lights and hoped that death would not knock on their doors. Celtic culture encompassed the British Isles, Scandinavia and Western Europe and this tradition of Samhain spread throughout all these territories becoming one of the most popular and in fact we can say that despite some distortion it has remained traditional. Evolution modified it but it reaches our days from this origin and its development.

Because halloween is celebrated?

As I explain, the Druids, Celtic pagan priests celebrated the night of Samhain in which the spirits walked the earth again, seeking to possess the living. That is why no fire was lit, the houses remained cold and dark, their owners dressed in funeral clothes to avoid the attention of the dead and in this way it was believed that on the night of the dead one could stay alive if one went unnoticed.

In addition, this is how the Celts celebrated the end of summer and the end of the harvests and, with it, the beginning of a new year. “All Hallows Eve” is the Anglo-Saxon name that over the centuries was given to this particular tradition, the eve of All Saints’ Day, which through time and space would be deformed into the word “Halloween”.

From there comes a name that has been exported to the whole world, although the word “Halloween” does not have a translation in the countries where it is also celebrated. Something that does not happen, for example, with Christmas, a holiday that each country translates into its own language.

Every October 31, this date was also a festival dedicated to two gods: Morrigan (goddess of war and death) and Dagda (a secondary deity related to abundance).

Despite its gloomy origin, perhaps the most curious thing about this celebration is not its gloomy character, but the mixture of cultural traits that today brings together the traditions of various peoples in a single date.

The truth is that the influence of the pagan and the Christian, mainly, has degenerated into a celebration that, although it is far from the origin that we are explaining to you, still maintains that connection with being a festival in which death is very present.

Halloween and Christian celebrations

To the conquer part of the British Isles, the Romans acquired part of the celtic celebrations, and incorporated into their calendar the particular celebration of the end of the Celtic year. As is recognized, the Church is partly one of the institutions that best perpetuated the cultural background of Roman civilization, through tools such as Latin and writing.

After the Germanic invasions and the fall of Rome, the Church was the only reproducer of ancient Roman and Greek writings, which were often adapted to the Catholic faith.

That was how, in the 7th century AD, Pope Boniface IV incorporated the ancient Celtic traditionwhich was on the calendar Roman and was practiced in the Breton lands, to all the Christian celebrations with the name of the eve of the All Saints Dayin an attempt to give a sacred framework to the deep-rooted pagan tradition.

However, the celebration ofAll Hallows EveHe still hadn’t stopped transforming. Towards the year 1845, Ireland experienced its worst economic and social crisis, in what would later be called the Great Irish Famine. millions of irish emigrated to other countries in search of workbeing the recent United States of America the main destination of the exiles.

The Irish brought their traditions, and that’s how All Hallows Eve became Halloween. With the North American intervention, the celebration took on a much more picturesque aspect, when not commercial.

Pumpkin and sweets | Today’s Halloween Tradition

One of the most popular traditions in today’s Halloween is the hollowing out and carving of a pumpkin. The actual origin of this tradition was to make a lantern called Jack-o-lantern emerged from Irish folklore of the eighteenth century. The legend of this tradition tells that Jack was a drinker, gambler and loafer who spent his days lounging under an oak tree. on one occasion Satan appeared to him to take him to hell; but Jack challenged him to climb the oak andWhen the devil was at the top of the tree, he carved a cross on the trunk to prevent him from descending. so Jack he made a deal with the devil: he would let her come down if she never tempted him with gambling or drink again.

When Jack died, however, he couldn’t get into heaven because of his sins in life, and he couldn’t get into hell either because he deceived the devil. In order to make up for it, the devil handed him an ember to light his way in the icy night where he should wander until Judgment Day. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out bucket that was a turnip, and was to burn forever like a lantern.

That is why the Irish used to use turnips to make their “Jack’s lanterns”.but when the immigrants arrived in the United States, they noticed that pumpkins were more abundant than turnips.

That is why the tradition of carving pumpkins for Halloween night and transforming them into lanterns with a candle inside began. The lantern was not intended to summon evil spirits but to keep them away from people and houses.

As for the custom of “trick or treating” or asking for candy from door to door, it emerged in 1930 and has like origin a practice that arose in Europe during the ninth century called souling, a kind of service for souls. On November 2, All Souls’ Day, the Early Christians went from town to town begging for “dead cakes” (soul cakes), which were pieces of bread with raisins. The more cakes the beggars received, the greater the number of prayers they would pray for the souls of their benefactors’ dead relatives.

At that time it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a period after their death and that prayers, even if they were said by strangers, could accelerate the soul’s entry into heaven.

The practice moved to the United States as an attempt by authorities to control vandalism which took place on Halloween night. Towards the end of the 19th century, some sectors of the population considered the night of October 31 as a time of fun at the expense of others, inspired by the “mischief night” that was part of Irish and Scottish culture. and although the acts consisted of practical jokes such as knocking down fences or soaping windows, it ended up deriving into authentic acts against people and animals, not to mention that it had a peak during the 1920s with the massacres perpetrated by the masked Ku Klux Klan.

That is why the community groups began to Propose family fun alternatives to counteract vandalism: pumpkin carving contests and costumes or parties for children and adults. In this way, they intended to return to the spirit of the early Christians, and so they went house to house disguised or with masks offering a simple performance or a musical number in exchange for food and drink and then later, it led to sweets and candies.

The day of the dead in America

A special mention should be made to another American celebration, as old (even older) as the Celtic which also worships its dead and takes place (again through ecclesiastical intervention) during these same days.

Its about Day of the Dead, whose origin dates back to pre-Columbian civilizations and today is celebrated Mexico and other Central American countries.

Meanwhile, it is ironic to see how the celebration of Halloween is taking hold in several European countries, continent where it originated, through globalization. Although it is true that the new imperialist world order imposes the customs of the metropolis towards the periphery, the historical journey to which the celebration of the night of the 31 October.

Spain, All Saints’ Day

In Spain Halloween It is also celebrated thanks to the cultural influence that constantly reaches us from the United States, although in our country October 31 is not as famous as November 1 and is known as All Saints’ Day.

This All Saints Day is a catholic tradition that is celebrated in honor of all the saints, known and unknown in the modern world and thus be able to compensate for the lack of saints’ festivities during the year by the faithful. It is the day in which the memory of those who have died is honored.

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