The beginning or origin of Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived about 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland, celebrated their new year on November 1st marking the end of summer and the beginning of harvest.
On the day before the new year, October 31, it was believed that the dead returned to Earth to cause trouble and damage crops. Halloween was a time of celebration and superstition. People would light bonfires a wear homemade costumes, usually made of animal heads and skins, to ward off spirits.
When Halloween was first celebrated in America, it consisted of public events to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would tell stories of the dead, sing, dance and tell each other’s fortunes. The celebrations were very small and limited. Colonial Halloween festivities were celebrated by telling ghost stories and making mischief of all kinds. Annual Autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not celebrated throughout the country.
When a new flood of immigrants, especially those fleeing from the potato famine in Ireland in 1846, came to America the celebration of Halloween was beginning to be celebrated nationally. Americans began to dress in costume and go door to door asking for food and money and that tradition became what we know today as “trick-or-treat.”
Halloween has changed from what it’s origin were years ago. Most recently children dress up as their favorite characters, whether a cartoon or historical character, and go from house to house collecting candy. It wasn’t so long ago that I remember, with a warmth, my children going door to door, trick or treating. I remember that time as fun. Speaking and socializing with my neighbors. But times change and we must act accordingly.
Today, a lot of the past traditions seem to have fallen by the wayside. Our world seems to have changed along with the traditions of Halloween. Parents today are fearful. The fun has been taken out of Halloween. But for those who appreciate the holiday, there are ways to celebrate with you children and keep fear at a minimum.
A few of the ways to change how we observe Halloween are by having small neighborhood parties, creating a celebration at a local social club, and maybe even having a small party in a public park. Most of all, just make Halloween memories that your children can cherish for years.