Today its Halloween’s day, a day many of you never expected to be much celebrated worldwide today especially in the western part of the world.
You already know that Halloween takes place on the last day of October, but here’s something you might not know: The word itself literally means “hallowed evening,” and was previously known to early European celebrators as All Hallows’ Eve. All Hallows’ Eve (October 31) and All Saints’ Day (November 1) both paid homage to saints (“hallows” = saints). The name was eventually shortened to “Halloween,” which we know and love to this day.
Here, we’re sharing Halloween’s origin (and Halloween’s meaning too) in the hopes that it’ll make your celebrations even more, er…meaningful. After all, this old-fashioned holiday actually dates back many, many years. It’s a lot older than you might think! And as for the witches and wizards that you’ve come to associate with it? Yeah, they’re part of the story too! Here’s the true tale of how Halloween officially came to be.
What’s the Actual History of Halloween—and Why Do We Celebrate It on October 31?
Do you know that Up until the 7th century CE, All Hallow’s Eve fell actually on May 13. Perhaps in an attempt to offset the occasion with a religious celebration, Pope Boniface IV ultimately made the call to change the observance to its current November 1 date.
Why Do We Celebrate Halloween on October 31?
Halloween falls on October 31 because the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, considered the earliest known root of Halloween, occurred on this day. It marked a pivotal time of year when seasons changed, but (more importantly) observers also believed the boundary between this world and the next became especially thin at this time, enabling them to connect with the dead. This belief is shared by some other cultures; a similar idea is mentioned around the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which also typically occurs in October and involves saying prayers for the dead. This is also where Halloween gains its “haunted” connotations.
And lastly, It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain; that such festivals may have had pagan roots; and that Samhain itself was Christianized as Halloween by the early Church. Some believe, however, that Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, separate from ancient festivals like Samhain.
Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising and souling), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration.