October 31, 2012 by bdetienne
Happy Halloween from the Burtogram HQ staff! The holiday makes a mid-week appearance this year which has led to a week long series of celebrations of all varieties. Costume parties, haunted houses, pumpkin carving, the traditional trick-or-treating, and alternative trick-or-treating events have been held and it is always fun to see people get into the Halloween spirit.
We were interested in diving in to the origins of Halloween and were surprised at how much the holiday we know today has evolved from a year-end celebration the Celts threw over 2,000 years ago called Samhain. According to the website Halloween History.org, the Celts’ year began on November 1st and so October 31st was a festival that marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter season, a season that saw cold temperatures and a lot of death among livestock and people. Legend has it that during the ceremonies food and drink would be set out to aid or thwart the good and bad spirits that would be roaming around that night. In addition, some people would don outlandish costumes and walk around town to scare the spirits away. New traditions and additions were added to this festival as the Roman Empire took over the Celts’ land and Christianity emerged but a celebration was still held, October 31st as All Hallows Eve and November 1st as All Saints Day.
In the United States, All Hallows Eve as it was called then was not celebrated. Most of the New World residents were Protestant (the relatively new sect of Christianity began by Martin Luther that did not have saints, therefore no All Saints Day or All Hallows Eve celebrations). But according to Halloween History.org’s, website, events called “play parties” began to emerge:
“These parties got neighborhoods together to celebrate the harvest, dance, sing, tell stories of the dead, tell fortunes, and have pageants for children in costume.”
With an uptick in immigration and many religions represented, efforts were made in the late 1800’s to add Halloween and All Saints Day to public calendars, magazines and newspapers started to publicize these holidays. The efforts were successful and Halloween soon became popular in the United States as a holiday for communities and families, not one of great religious and supernatural importance. In the mid 1900’s, city-wide parties, parades and costumes became more prevalent and has grown ever since. In fact, according to Halloween History.org, the holiday is the second largest commercial holiday (Christmas is first) and almost $7 billion is spent annually on Halloween-related purchases. That’s crazy.
Whatever you do to celebrate tonight, have fun but be safe. Let’s keep the Happy in Happy Halloween!
For a more complete history of Halloween, check our Halloween History.org’s website here.