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History of Halloween

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How Halloween came to be.

Let’s discuss the history of Halloween.

The Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-in) in the UK, Ireland and northern France celebrated the new year on November 1-worlds between living and dead were thought to be blurred, with ghosts returning to earth on October 31.  Celtic priests, Druids, built sacred bonfires and Celts wore costumes so that the roaming ghosts could not recognize them.

How Halloween came to be.

The Romans, who conquered most of the Celtic territory by 43 A.D., combined two of their festivals with with Samhain.  With Feralia, in late October, the Romans honored the dead.  The festival for Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, was symbolized by an apple (perhaps the origin of our bobbing for apples).

Pope Gregory III in the mid 700’s expanded All Martyrs Day to include all saints as well as martyrs and moved the observance from Pope Boniface’s original May 13 date (609 A.D.) to November 1.  In 1000 A.D., November 2 was made All Souls Day, perhaps to replace the Celtic holiday.  The celebration was also called All-hallowsmas (from Middle English for All Saints Day) and the night before, the old Samhain, came to be called All-hallows Eve…eventually, Halloween.

In America, Halloween was originally celebrated in the south.  The harvest was celebrated with neighbors; stories of the dead were shared; and dancing, singing and mischief were common.  After large waves of immigration in the mid-1800’s, especially with the Irish, the celebration spread to the north; people dressed in costumes and began going door-to-door asking for food or money.  

By the 1920’s or so, the celebration became secular and mischief was discouraged by providing neighborhood children with treats; treats also originated with the English custom of giving poorer citizens pastries called “soul cakes” during All-Hallows Day festivities in exchange for their praying for the dead of the givers and that is the history of Halloween.

Related links: Witches Hat and Broomstick Halloween Recipes

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About the Author: Yvonne Wonder

As the founder and managing director of Destination Sitters, LLC, a national hotel and event babysitting service, and the mother of two children, I strongly believe that family comes first. I personally needed babysitting when I moved to San Diego 14 years ago. Like most parents, I assumed there were standards for temporary babysitting; in reality, there are no state standards or licensing requirements for temporary babysitting. The idea for Destination Sitters was born! I wanted to Give Parents Peace of Mind® when traveling with their children, so I created strict screening requirements for the sitters we refer. There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes from getting great professional help to care for your children, especially when traveling away from home. I and my partners, along with our office staff, have that one goal in mind with everything we do. Through the years of working with children, I have been inspired to write three books, and this blog for parents’ and children’s wellbeing. I believe the best way to teach a child is leading by example, with love, honesty, integrity, compassion, perseverance, and personal responsibility. Learning these values and teaching children that all women and men are equal will encourage them to dream big to be anything they want to be! An entrepreneur for over 35 years, I previously spent years running a construction and design company with two offices in California and built million-dollar estates and remodeled existing ones. For three and half years, I was one of the primary designers on HGTV’s Curb Appeal. I have also been published in books, magazines and newspapers, and have been a featured designer in multiple showcase houses.

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