When I went back to England a few weeks ago, it was interesting to see the increase that "Halloween" has encroached on the British public. There has always been a festival at this time of year, which I will blog about next week, Halloween however has only recently entered the British way of life.
This is actually quite funny seeing how the the festival actually started in the UK in the first place.
Halloween has its roots in Samhain (pronounced sow-in), an ancient harvest festival held at the end of the Celtic year. The festival marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark wintertime. It was believed the spirits of the dead returned on this eve to damage crops and play tricks on the living. It was also believed that the Celtic priests, or Druids, were able to make predictions about the future, which they did during large bonfire celebrations where they wore animal skins and sacrificed crops and animals to the spirits.
The Romans, were the first people to change this event, they brought with them the Britain their own Feralia, the day to "honor the dead" in late October, as well as another holiday to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. It is possible that this Roman influence is the reason apples are given out and bobbed for on Halloween.
By around AD 800, the Christian festival "All Hallows" replaced Samhain and became "All Hallows Eve," and eventually shortened to "Hallowe'en."
The celebrators of Samhain wore animal skins at their bonfire celebrations many often dressed as saints or angels. Later on men in Scotland would impersonate the dead on the day, explaining the ghoulish tradition we still observe.
During the mid 1800's, Irish and English immigrants flooded the United States and brought Halloween with them. From these immigrants we received the Halloween traditions we recognize today, however skewed they are now. For instance, the first "trick-or-treaters" were far from today's smiling children with commercialized costumes. They lived in Medieval England, and practiced "souling," in which poor people would beg for sweet breads, in return for praying for the families' souls. Later, the immigrants who brought Halloween to America would develop their own version of trick-or-treating, but it didn't become popular here until the 1930s.
Halloween is the second highest spending holiday after Christmas.
Harry Houdini died on Halloween
The first jack-o-lanterns were carved out of turnips
A quarter of all candy sold annually is for Halloween night.
About 21% of pet owners dress up their pets for Halloween
The original Halloween was so strapped for money the he prop department had to use the cheapest thing they could find, which turned out to be a spray-painted William Shatner mask. The film was made on a budget of $320,000 in about three weeks and grossed more than $65,000,000
BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
"Across the Pond"