The History of Halloween Essay

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain - The History of Halloween Essay introduction. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Once the holiday was brought to America, it was slowly changed over generations into the current version of the holiday. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, visiting “haunted houses”, carving jack-o-lanterns, and costume parties. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture.

Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life to cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. Masks and consumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them. Part of the history of Halloween is Halloween costumes.

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The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages. Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic costumes such as ninjas and princesses. Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats with the question, “Trick or treat? The “trick” part of “trick or treat” is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas, on November 1st, receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day, on November 2nd.

It originated in Ireland and Britain, yet there is no evidence that souling was ever practiced in America, and trick-or-treating may have developed in America independent of any Irish or British custom. In conclusion, Halloween has come a long way from where it began many years ago. Although some people still consider this to be an evil and fearsome holiday, the main purpose of the holiday is to have a little fun. People love stepping away from reality and routine life to become someone else. Halloween gives us the opportunity to do this, even if it is only once a year.

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