What is Halloween • Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. • The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries.
Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts.
The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite.
The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. • It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold."
On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished. • The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced "sow-en").
The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark forest. • The Druids would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.
In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church would make November 1st a church holiday to honor all the saints. • This day was called All Saint's Day, or Hallowmas, or All Hallows. • Years later the Church would make November 2nd a holy day.
Druids or ancient priests claimed that on this special Halloween night, they could communicate with the spirits of the departed. • Furthermore, the ghosts of the ancestors could assist the druids in foretelling what was going to happen in the year that was about to begin.
They thought ghosts visited the living on October 31st. They dressed up like ghosts so the spirits would not harm them.
During the first century the Romans invaded Britain. • They brought with them many of their festivals and customs. • One of these was the festival know as Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens.
It was also celebrated around the 1st of November. • After hundreds of years of Roman rule the customs of the Celtic's Samhain festival and the Roman Pomona Day mixed becoming 1 major fall holiday.
It was called All Souls Day and was to honor the dead. • It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils.
But the spread of Christianity did not make people forget their early customs. • Over the years the customs from all these holidays mixed. • October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow's Eve, Hallowe'en, and then - Halloween.
To celebrate Halloween, children often dress up as witches, ghosts and mummies, or famous people such as Superman and Spiderman.
Did you know • that there are more than 2,500 costume rental shops across the country? • If rental isn't for you, consider some more options: making a costume at home with materials you already have on hand or check out garage sales.
Jack-o-lanterns • The tradition of carving jack-o-lanterns comes from the Celts. • A miserable man called Jack tricked the devil. • Unable to enter heaven or hell after his death, he was destined to roam the earth listlessly.
Jack placed a piece of coal into a carved-out turnip and used it as a lantern to keep the evil spirits away. • Today children cut the shape of eyes, nose and mouth in a pumpkin and put a candle inside it.
Did you know • the United States produces more than 998 million pounds of pumpkins? That's a lot of Jack-o-Lanterns to make! • The largest producer is Illinois, which grows an average of 457 million pounds of pumpkin. • All these pumpkins are valued at more than $100 million.
Trick or Treat • One popular Halloween activity is “trick-or treating”. Children dress up in their costumes, then go to people’s houses.
Trick or Treat • They knock on the door and say “trick or treat?” This means, give us a treat (usually some sweets), or we’ll play a trick on you. Most people give the sweets.
Did you know • that more than 36 million children are expected to go trick-or-treating this Halloween? • That's how many 5-13 year olds there are in the United States. Of course, age is no limit for Halloween fun.