What is Halloween and Why do we Celebrate it?-It’s time to decorate your house with pumpkins and start carving as the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to change to vibrant autumnal hues. Halloween, which is observed on October 31, is just around the corner, so get ready for a night of entertainment that includes dressing up, eating spooky food, trick-or-treating, playing Halloween party games, and (for adults only) drinking boozy Halloween cocktails.
Halloween is a holiday that is observed on October 31; in 2022, it will fall on Monday. The custom has its roots in the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain – a holy festival, when people would dress up and build bonfires to fend off ghosts.
Halloween’s modern English name has roots in mediaeval Christianity. The words for holy in Middle and Old English are the ancestors of the word hallow. It can also be a noun that means saint. The day before All Hallows’ Eve, when an evening mass was held, was known as All Hallows’ Eve. At that time, the Christian holiday we now know as All Saints’ Day was known as All Hallows’ Day. Halloween eventually replaced that original three-word term.
Pope Gregory III established November 1 as a day to celebrate all saints in the ninth century. Soon, elements of Samhain’s customs were absorbed into All Saints Day. Halloween has changed throughout the years to become a day filled with festivities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive get-togethers, dressing up, and enjoying sweets.
The majority of Celtic lands had been captured by the Roman Empire by 43 A.D. Over the course of their 400-year reign over the Celtic nations, two Roman-inspired holidays were merged with the customary holiday of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a Roman rite that takes place in late October to remember the deceased. Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, was celebrated on the second day. The apple is Pomona’s emblem, therefore the fact that this celebration was included into Samhain probably explains why we still bop for apples on Halloween today.
The earliest known source of Halloween is thought to be the ancient Gaelic feast of Samhain. Seasons change at this critical time of year, but more significantly, observers also felt that the veil between this world and the hereafter thinned, allowing them to communicate with the dead. This belief is prevalent in various other cultures; a related concept is brought up during Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday that falls in October and involves praying for the deceased. The “haunted” notions of Halloween come from this connection to the dead.
According to History, the Celts also thought that Samhain’s spiritual communication made it simpler for their druid priestesses to foretell the future. They constructed bonfires and offered sacrifices of animals and crops to the gods. Villagers dressed as animals for the bonfire celebrations, sporting heads and skins.
People in Old England and Ireland continued to associate the end of October with the roaming dead despite the new religious emphasis. To appease ravenous spirits, they left gifts of food out, and as time went on, humans started dressing up in spooky costumes to go begging for the delicacies themselves. The custom, known as “mumming,” resembled today’s trick-or-treating quite a bit.