On Halloween, children usually go through the streets dressed up and adults have themed parties. Where does the custom come from?
Due to the corona pandemic, the 2020 Halloween celebrations will be different. Glowing pumpkins, creepy costumes, theme parties and children asking for sweets – this is how Halloween is usually celebrated in many parts of the western world on October 31st. The tradition is particularly great in the USA, but the custom is also becoming increasingly popular in this country. It actually has its origins in Europe.
Origin in Celtic mythology
The creepy "holiday" has its origins in Ireland. In pre-Christian times the Celts celebrated the festival "Samhain" on the last day of October, a kind of harvest festival and the beginning of the cold season. The Celts believed that on this day one could establish contact with the realm of the dead, because according to mythology, the dead set out on Samhain in search of the living who were to die in the new year. To intimidate the dead, people dressed up in creepy costumes and held large fires. They placed small offerings in front of their houses to appease the spirits.
This is how "Samhain" became Halloween
The festival was initially only celebrated in Catholic areas, especially Ireland. In the 9th century, the Church called the pagan festival "All Hallows' Eve" because it is the evening before All Saints Day on November 1st. So over time it became "Halloween".
Halloween: why pumpkins?
The custom of setting up pumpkins originated in Ireland. Legend has it there that a villain tricked the devil and thus escaped hell. But the door to heaven was also denied him. But the devil had mercy and gave the villain glowing coal so that he could wander through the darkness. He put this in a turnip.
Irish emigrants brought the "Halloween" tradition to the United States in the 19th century, where it became one of the most popular celebrations in the country. Because there were so many pumpkins in the United States, this one replaced the lighted turnip. To ward off evil spirits, people carved faces in the pumpkins and set them up in front of their house. In the USA, Halloween gradually developed from an ancient folk festival to a party event.