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What is Halloween?

Every year we dress up, go trick or treating, and carve pumpkins but have you ever wondered how Halloween started?

The beginning of Halloween goes all the way back 2000 years ago to an ancient Celtic celebration in Ireland and Scotland called Samhain! Samhain was on October 31st and marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. This time of year was often associated with human death. Since this was 2000 years ago, without modern medicine and inventions, people lived shorter lives and often got sick and perished during the cold winter.

On Samhain, it was believed that on October 31, the night before the first day of winter, the world of the living and the dead overlap. Have you ever seen the popular Disney movie Coco? Samhain is similar to the Mexican tradition, Dia de Los Muertos, the holiday Manny and his family are celebrating in the movie! During Samhain, they were scared spirits could visit them, so people would dress up in scary costumes or as animals to confuse the spirits! This was their way of protecting themselves from harm.

Today’s Halloween tradition of wearing costumes came from this ancient tradition! Were you wondering where the Halloween tradition of trick or treating came from? Along with dressing up in costumes to confuse spirits, during Samhain, poor people would visit the homes of wealthier families to receive pastries and goods in exchange for the promise of praying for the families’ past relatives. Kids took this tradition and performed “tricks” like singing a song or telling a joke in exchange for a “treat” like the pastries, fruits, nuts, or coins! Over the years, this tradition turned treats into candy, like the Halloween trick or treating we do today!

GIGIL wishes you a fun and safe Halloween! Always make sure to stick with an adult, carry a flashlight and walk on the sidewalk!


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