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How Halloween Came to Be

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How Halloween costumes have evolved over the last 115 years.
How Halloween costume have evolved over the last 115 years – Daily Mail image

Today’s Halloween is thought to have its routes in the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain, pronounced Sah-ween. October 31 marked the change between light and dark, summer and winter and the harvest, which could mean the difference between surviving the winter or not.  This was also the time that the recently dead might come back and could cause damage to the harvesting crops, so masks and costumes were worn to appease the dead or frighten them away.  In addition, some believed that Faeries roamed dressed as beggars asking for food; those who gave them food were rewarded, those who did not were punished.  All Saints Day was originally designated in May, but was later moved to November 1, perhaps acknowledging people’s continuing to celebrate of Samhain.  In the Middle Ages, the poor went door-to-door on November 1, Hallowmas, All Saints Day, offering to pray for the dead in exchange for food-even Shakespeare mentions the practice in his play, Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Spooky Halloween

Jack O’lanterns may have come from the pagan practice of using hollowed-out turnips to carry embers from sacred fires back to light their home hearth.  Another popular tale from Ireland tells the story of Stingy Jack, a drunkard and thief, who tricked the devil multiple times, finally getting him to agree not to take his soul when he died.  Stingy Jack wasn’t allowed into heaven, but the devil didn’t take his soul either, so Stingy Jack was condemned to wonder the earth.  The devil took pity on him, though, and gave him a hollowed-out turnip with an ember inside to light his way, thus the origin of Jack O’lanterns!  The size of the pumpkin helped it replace the turnip.

Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-1800’s, fleeing famine, may have brought the traditions of Jack O’lanterns, Halloween and All Saints Day with them.   Halloween is now the nation’s second biggest commercial holiday, with nearly $7 billion in spending.

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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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