Ghosts from Halloween’s Past

Jolly Halloween, May Fortune Smile on You

Jolly Halloween, May Fortune Smile on You

Adara Walker, Journalist

When people think of Halloween, they usually think of little kids going door to door, showing off their best costumes, and receiving candy for them. Although this holiday is celebrated with fun filled activities, such as decorating your house with spider webs and visiting as many haunted houses as possible, it is a holiday with centuries of history behind it.

Halloween was originated in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced Sah-win). This festival was celebrated at the end of the harvest season. Pagans would use this time to gather stock and prepare for the upcoming winter. The Pagans celebrated this day because they believed that on October 31st, the world of the deceased and the living would cross, causing a great amount of sickness and people’s crops to die. Children would wear masks and costumes to try to mimic the evil spirits around them, which is where Halloween costumes sprouted from.

Trick-or-treating has always been the main activity of halloween. Children go door to door around their neighborhood, asking homeowners for candy by saying “trick-or-treat.” The “trick” part of the phrase “trick-or-treat” is a threat that you will play a trick on the owner or his property if you are not given a treat.

The Jack O’ lantern is based off of an old tale of a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack” who had played many tricks on the Devil. He had played tricks such as trapping him inside a coin and in a tree without releasing him until he promised to not take his soul when he died. When Jack did eventually die, he was not let into heaven because God would not allow such a terrible soul to enter. Keeping true to his promise, the Devil would not allow Jack into Hell either. He was sent off into the dark of the night with only a single burning coal to light his way. As legend has it, Jack put the burning coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming Earth ever since. The Irish and Scottish had began to make their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving faces into turnips and potatoes to frighten away Jack’s spirit. When Immigrants came to America, they brought this tradition and found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, was perfect for carving Jack O’ lanterns.

The colors orange and black have always been a tradition during Halloween. Orange stems from the season in which Halloween occurs. During the change of the season, the leaves on the trees turn orange. This color very much represents Halloween and the fall season. The other color that truly embodies Halloween is the color black. The pagans believed that during the fall seasons, sickness and the death of crops would occur. In past times, Halloween was a holiday of death. When people think of death, colors such as black come to mind. Halloween is a very dark holiday in some ways. Going out at night dressed as someone you are not, and taking candy from people, while threatening to destroy their homes if candy is not given is a very dark idea.

In conclusion, Halloween has a lot of history behind it that not many people know of. It started off as something completely different than it is now, and each tradition has its own background.