Halloween is one of the most beloved holidays of the year, at least in my house. My kids start to think about their Halloween costumes in late August. It’s so much fun dressing up, going around from house to house collecting candy, but with all the fanfare of tricks, treats, and costumes, where do these Halloween traditions come from?
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Samhain is a Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and begins the “darker half” of the year. On our modern calendar, it takes place from sunset October 31st and ends on sunset on November 1st. Samhain was referred as “Three Nights of Summer’s End” and last three days.
Samhain is a time to remember our beloved ones that passed away. The veil to this world and the outerworld was thin and could be easily crossed. Food and drink were left outside so that they would be available to the souls of the dead. The souls are thought to revisit the house, seeking hospitality.
In the 9th century, western Christianity created All Saints Day to honor the saints of the Church, (celebrated on November 1st) and All Souls day which commemorates the faithfully departed, (celebrated on November 2nd) Over time these three festivities: All Saints, All Souls, and Samhain merged and originated the modern-day Halloween.
We celebrate Halloween on October 31st by getting dressed up and visiting houses asking for treats. The Art Home of Education finds other similarities between modern Halloween and Samhain. They are:
“Trick or Treat versus Food As An Offering
Dressing Up versus Spirits of the Dead
Jack o Lantern versus Lights to Guide the Spirits
Fall Celebration versus New Year’s Celebration.”
If you are interested to learn more about Halloween traditions, the children books below are great resources! Don’t forget to visit our Pinterest Holidays Around the World board for more fun traditions!by
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