What exactly is Halloween? For many, it is merely a reason to dress up and be someone else for a night. For kids, it’s a chance to collect loads of free candies and chocolates. For business people, it’s an annual money-making machine. In truth, Halloween is basically a holiday so mixed up with historical facts that people perceive it as a night when you wear a costume and be whoever you want to be. This is rather fitting, considering that historically, this holiday has had a similar identity crisis. Below are four important things you most likely didn’t know about Halloween.
Halloween was New Year’s Eve for the ancient Celtics
Instead of January 1, the New Year began on November 1 for the Celts. For them, it began at the end of summer harvest and the onset of winter. The Celts believed that the eve of November 1 was the time dead and evil spirits roamed the earth to cause enormous problems including destroying crops and taking out lives. The presence of these spirits enabled the Celtic priests to make predictions about the coming winter months and the future of the tribe’s people. This resulted to people wearing costumes in an effort to hide their true selves from the evil spirits.
The practice of trick-or-treating originated from poor people begging
Begging is a lowly thing to do, while trick-or-treating is fun and kids love doing it. While both are essentially the same, the only real difference between them is the latter is sanctioned, hence the nationwide popularity of this practice. However in some US states, Halloween is called the “Beggars’ Night”. In fact, some groups have campaigned against trick-or-treating, labeling it as extortion and a senseless tradition. Historically, trick-or-treating really is a form of extortion. The practice originated from a practice once performed by the extremely poor people in the British Isles around November 1. Often called “souling”, these people would go door to door begging for food and clothing, and they would offer to pray for the souls of the dead in exchange.
The light in a jack-o’-lantern is provided by Satan
According to legend, a man named Stingy Jack played tricks with the devil and cut deals with him. The last of these deals was that Satan would not take Jack’s soul when he died. Upon his death, Jack was unaccepted in Heaven because of his evil ways when he was still a mortal. He then decided to stay in hell but Satan kept his end of their deal and denied him entrance. Instead, Jack was forced to wander endlessly in the darkness between heaven and hell, using a lantern he made from turnip which was lit up with the fires of hell provided by the devil himself, Satan.
In America, Halloween is the second-largest commercial holiday
Second to Christmas, an estimated $ 7 billion is spent annually on decorations, candy, costumes, and more, in preparation for one night of Halloween madness. However, this holiday had more modest beginnings. Decades before, the holiday was celebrated by only a few communities and states with fortune-telling and games played in the streets. It was only during the 19th century when immigrants started wearing costumes and the concept of trick-or-treating was invented. It soon gained popularity across America and by the 20th century, the holiday had lost many of its religious themes and began to take shape as a commercial holiday that we all know today. GP