Just what is Halloween? For many, it’s merely a reason to dress up and be someone else for a night. For kids, it is a chance to collect loads of free candies and chocolates. For business people, it is an annual money-making machine. In truth, Halloween is essentially a holiday so mixed up with historical facts that people perceive it as a night when you put on a costume and be whomever you want to be. This is rather fitting, considering that historically, this holiday has had a similar identity crisis. Below are four important things you most likely did not know about Halloween.
Halloween was New Year’s Eve for the early Celtics
Instead of January 1, the New Year began on November 1 to the Celts. For them, it began at the end of summer harvest and the start of winter. The Celts believed the eve of November 1 was the time dead and evil spirits roamed the earth to cause enormous problems including destroying crops and taking lives out. The existence of these spirits allowed the Celtic priests to make predictions about the upcoming winter months and the future of the tribe’s people. This led in individuals wearing costumes in an attempt to conceal their true selves from the evil spirits.
The practice of trick-or-treating originated from bad people begging
Begging is a lowly thing to do, whilst trick-or-treating is fun and kids love doing this. While both are basically the same, the only real difference between them is that the latter is sanctioned, hence the nationwide popularity of the practice. However in some US states, Halloween is called the”Beggars’ Night”. Historically, trick-or-treating really is a kind of extortion. Often called”souling”, these folks would go door to door begging for food and clothes, and they would offer to plead for the souls of the deceased in exchange.
The last of those deals was that Satan would not take Jack’s soul when he died. Upon his death, Jack was unaccepted in Heaven because of his evil ways when he was still a mortal. He then decided to stay in hell but Satan kept his end of the deal and denied him entry. Rather, Jack was forced to wander endlessly in the shadow between hell and heaven, with a lantern that he made from turnip which was lit up with the fires of hell provided by the devil himself, Satan.
In America, Halloween is the second-largest commercial holiday
Second to Christmas, an estimated $7 billion is spent annually on decorations, candy, costumes, and more, in preparation for a single night of Halloween madness. Decades before, the holiday was celebrated by just a few communities and countries with fortune-telling and matches played in the streets. It was only during the 19th century when immigrants began wearing costumes and the idea of trick-or-treating was devised. It soon gained fame across America and by the 20th century, the holiday had lost many of its religious themes and started to take shape as a commercial holiday that we all know today.