Have you ever wondered about the origins of children in costumes roaming door-to-door for treats, or why we carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns?
The word “HALLOWEEN Essay” actually comes from the Celtic language of Ireland. It comes from a contraction of “All Hallow’s Eve”, the evening before All Saint’s Day, November 1, which is celebrated in the Catholic religion in honor of saints. All Saint’s Day also coincided with the Celtic New Year, which began November 1st and the celebration of the harvest. On All Hallow’s Eve, the Celts observed Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the largest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year.Order now
The Celts believed that during the time of Samhain, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living. The Celtic folk would leave out gifts of food and drink for the dead souls. On All Souls Day, November 2, people would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes”, made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggar would receive, the more prayers they promised to say for the dead relatives of the donors.
`The practice of trick-or-treating began when people who were “souling” began to dress like the dead souls, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice became known as “mumming”.
So to this day, witches, ghosts and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favorite costumes for Halloween.
The practice of carving pumpkins probably comes from Irish folklore. A man named Jack, a notorious drunkard and trickster, had a trick gone awry with the devil. So when he died he was denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead the devil gave him a single ember inside a hollowed-out turnip to light his way through the cold darkness. Originally, the Irish people used turnips as their “Jack’s lanterns”.
But when the immigrants came to America and actually brought the traditions of Halloween to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips. So the jack-o-lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with a candle.
Deals with the devil, harvest holidays, and dead souls have little relationship to today’s Halloween customs. Halloween of the late twentieth century has become a festival of fun when children and adults can enjoy trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins and dressing in costumes. Happy Haunting !! .