halloween – A short history

            We know Halloween as an October Holiday centered around children, trick or treat and parties where usually sane adults are encouraged to dress up and enjoy a little fun. Scholars have suggested the holiday has its origins in an ancient Celtic festival know as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”) which means “summers end” if you speak very ancient Irish. the name Halloween – and its date, october 31 – are more recent. it is a variation on ” All Hallows Evening” – the day before All Saints Day.

            Halloween came to America with Scotch and Irish immigrants who brought along traditions that related to All Saints Day. Among these were traditions of children begging for “souls cakes” – sweet cakes made as a remembrance of souls lost, and carving turnips into the shapes of lanterns to remember souls held in purgatory. fortunately, they found pumpkins when they got here or we would all have jack-o-turnips on our front steps.

            Part of Halloween is costumes and begging door to door for treats – trick or treating. This seems to be ancient as a tradition – resembling the medieval practice of “souling,” when poor folk would go door to door on hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead. trick or treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice in the U.S. until the 1930s and actually wasn’t widely prevalent till after World War II. (Your humble blogger does not remember trick or treating before about 1950s). National attention was given to trick-or-treating in 1947 issues of Jack and Jill (magazine), and by Halloween episodes of network radio programs – Baby Snooks and The jack benny Show in 1946 and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948.

             The notion of having costumes on halloween could go back to the celtic celebration. That may have been an occasion where our ancestors were taking stock of the harvest and concerned about the spirits of the dead. masks and costumes may have been worn to appease or respect the spirits of the dead. All speculation of course, till we get our time machine working.  

            Halloween become popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to exposure to Us television and other media, trick-or-treating has ever started to occur among children in many parts of Europe and is seen in Saudi Arabia. it has often been a controversial holiday. Some associate it with paganism – though it certainly seems to have Christian roots – and some have objections to halloween activities. Newspaper reports from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, often saw Halloween trick-or-treating as a form of extortion. In 1948, members of the Madison Square Boys Club in New York City carried a parade banner that read “American Boys Don’t Beg.”

             Whatever your views of Halloween, for most of us it is a fun fall holiday in the community. many of us will decorated our houses, children will appear at our door to door and lots of candy will be consumed. Our most sage advice at this fall holiday is – children, parents and grandparents will be walking to your house at night. make sure your Washington homeowners insurance is up to date!


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