In parts all over the world today, we are celebrating Halloween.
For many cultures, this has become a childrens’ holiday, where they will dress up in costumes and go knocking on doors trick or treating for sweets. But Halloween (a contraction of All Hallow’s Evening) is widely believed to have originated from Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season. The festival would take place hallway between the autumn equinox and winter solstice and would indicate the “darker half” of the year was beginning. Feasts were had, and the souls of kin were summoned to attend and a place sat at the table for them. Children would go door-to-door, reciting verses of songs in exchange for food, a tradition known as “guising.” The next day would be known as “All Saints Day,” in which all saints and martyrs were honored.
Although the Samhain festival originally took place throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, variations were also celebrated in other parts of the United Kingdom and into mainland Europe.
So, wherever in the world you may be, may you enjoy your trick or treating, apple-bobbing, pumpkin-carving, bonfires, jack o’lanterns, and scary stories.