Origins of Halloween

It’s that time of year again! When all the ghosts, vampires, zombies and monsters will rise from their crypts (i.e., costume cupboard) and roam the streets in search of a tasty treat while scaring the unsuspecting neighbourhood.

Yes, it’s Halloween! On the 31st October, groups of children (and parents) will take to the streets, going door to door on the hunt for candy. Halloween is enjoyed by many but how many know the history behind this spooky holiday?

History of Halloween:

Originating from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine in the mid-1800s brought the celebration to the US, bringing with them folk customs such as creating jack-o-lanterns. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.

Halloween in Australia:

Despite Halloween’s rich history and the shared culture between Australia, Britain and the US, Australia doesn’t really celebrate the festival – however, it is becoming more popular in recent years. More Australians are getting involved in celebrating Halloween, with some businesses and organizations coordinating Halloween-themed gatherings for staff and clients to interact with each other. Charity organizations may have fundraising activities that centre on the Halloween theme.

So, on the 31st of October, let your inner child free and take part in all the spooky fun; why not trick or treating in your local neighbourhood, attend a Halloween party or even hunker down for a spooky movie marathon – the possibilities are endless!

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