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If you ask someone today what the purpose of Halloween is, they’ll most likely tell you they don’t know, or they just do it to dress up in costumes and collect or pass out candy. I never learned the history of Halloween at school or at home, so I decided to do some research to learn the origin of Halloween.
History of Halloween
Samhain, which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic, is the Celtic festival where people light bonfires and honor all saints and martyrs, celebrated on November 1. Over 2,000 years ago people believed that on Oct 31st, ghosts would come out, so people left food and wine on their doorsteps to keep the spirits away. People wore masks when they came out of their houses so they blended in with the ghosts. In the eighth century Christians changed Samhain to All Hallows Day and the day before to All Hallows Eve, which eventually got shortened to Halloween.
On November 2, “All Souls Day,” the poor would beg for pastries and in return they would pray for dead people’s relatives. That tradition was called Souling. Guising was when young kids dressed up and accepted food, wine, and money in exchange for singing, jokes or poetry.
In the 19th century, Ireland and Scottish immigrants changed that tradition to trick or treat. In the beginning, it was more focused on pranks. In the 1950’s it started becoming more family-oriented and kids dressed up in fun costumes to collect candy.
Halloween is the second most money spent holiday next to Christmas with consumers spending about six billion dollars every year. Now the government profits billions of dollars every year because of this special day.
This research inspired me to go around asking my peers about the origins of Halloween and their most memorable costumes. I spoke with people under 25 on the streets of Oakland, Calif..
“I just do it for the kids. I don’t think it sends a good message to the kids, but it doesn’t sent a bad one… It just mean kids having fun and making memories and being occupied.”
“I do because it’s during my birthday month. It started with some tradition of all hallow eve and now it considered a children’s holiday and a good reason to get candy.”
“I usually celebrate it because free candy. It’s about being that creature you always imagined and letting your imagination run free. My most memorable costume was a butterfly.”
“My most memorable costume was a homemade Lego. I got a box and circle boxes and glued them together and colored it red. I thought it was the best costume ever.”
“I think its about making memories with yo kids and taking them out so they can have a good time even though it appears demotic because kids be little devils or skull people. My most memorable costume was a potato. Back in the day my mom didn’t buy us costumes we had to make our own. l guess it sparked my creativity because I learned to make my own stuff and use my mind to create things to my advantage.”
“I celebrate it because I really like the holiday. It’s different from the others ones because it’s not really joyous, but you can celebrate it in a joyous way.”