By Garrett Ashley
To commemorate the great day of October 31st, we here at the Madison Advocate thought it would be appropriate to give all of our readers a quick rundown of the history of Halloween.
Halloween’s roots reach back more than 2000 years, to the time of the Celts, who lived in what is now Ireland, England, and France. The holiday began as an ancient festival, known as Samhain, which essentially represented New Year’s Eve for the Celts. The Celts believed that, on the night before the New Year, the boundary between our world and the next blurred, making communications with spirits and the future possible.
When Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire in the 400’s, the church replaced the holiday of Samhain with “All Souls Day”, a holiday with many of the same ideas and practices, but governed by the church. The holiday commonly called All-hallows (meaning all souls) eventually changed to All-hallows Eve.
When settlers came to North American they continued All-hallows Eve in the new land. However, the holiday did not interest the the New England colonies. Furthermore, the southern colonies were the ones that keep the tradition alive. Some time in this period, the name changed from All-hallows Eve to Halloween.
The practices of Halloween eventually changed from a church-centered event to a community centered holiday, with the practice of trick or treating being revived as a cheap and easy way for people in a community to reward the childern of the neighborhood. When the baby-boom of the 50s hit America, the holiday became aimed at children almost exclusively, which brought us to the current practice of Halloween that we are now familiar with.