Halloween is one of the most favorite holidays children love because it is associated with costumes and getting lots of candy. But, what do we really know about Halloween? Halloween is celebrated on October 31st every year. Reference books tell us that the name Halloween means “hallowed” or “holy evening” because it takes place the night before All Saints’ Day.
However, there are many superstitions that surround Halloween. History tells us that long ago the Celts believed that on Halloween “the souls of the dead were allowed to return to their homes.” They even believed that all kinds of “dark spirits” were allowed to roam around. It seems that back then Halloween was considered a “fearful” night. And, it was told that in England some of the villagers and farmers would build huge bonfires and kept them burning all night long to frighten away the evil spirits. Also, the Druids, an order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, “believed that on Halloween ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches and elves came out to harm people.” They even believed that “cats had once been human beings but were changed as a punishment for evil deeds.”
But after many many years, superstitions have lessoned for most and Halloween has become a festival of parties for people young and old, dressing up in all kinds of costumes. Halloween has also traditionally been associated with symbols. In England apples are connected with Halloween just like pumpkins are popular in the U.S.
There is even a story the Irish tell about how jack-o-lanterns appeared on the scene. It seems there was a man named Jack who couldn’t get into heaven because he was cheap nor could he get into hell because he played too many jokes on the devil. So Jack became destined to “walk the earth with his lantern until Judgment day.”
So if you ever wondered why witches, ghosts and cats are associated with Halloween, you can see these ideas came from ancient superstitions and have trickled down to “present-day.” I bet Friday the 13th and the stigma around black cats has something to do with those ancient superstitions as well! Today for most people, Halloween is a light-hearted holiday and gets us ready for Thanksgiving. The most important thing to remember is to “trick or treat” safely. Wear costumes that don’t hinder your vision. Bring flashlights so you can see where you are going. Wear reflective items on your clothing so drivers can see you. Don’t go out alone – go with adults. Check with your local communities to see what other events they are sponsoring. Please remember that whatever you are doing for Halloween — do it safely. HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO EVERYONE!