The scary origin of Halloween

Halloween is one of the most scariest and well known festivities around the world, especially in USA. Every 31st of October, millions of children (and some grown ups) take to the streets of many cities around the world. They dress up with the aim of looking scary and, of course, to get the best selection of sweets at the shout of “trick or treat”.

Nevertheless, do we really know what Halloween is and when did this celebration start?

We have to travel back in time to find the answer to this question. The Celts were a tribe, originally from Ireland and England, that dominated the vast majority of the territories of Europe. In those times, the tribe celebrated the end of summer and the harvest season with a festival called Samhain. In this celebration, the Celts wore costumes mainly made with animal skin and bones, and made sacrifices to their Celtics gods while gathering around huge sacred bonfires, which the druids built.

After the conquest of the Celtic lands by the Romans, some of their traditions were fused or incorporated to Roman traditions. For instance, the Romans honoured Pommona around the same time, the goddess of fruit represented by an apple  – maybe this is why apples are a fundamental part of Halloween?. When the Christians took over the empire, both traditions were “Christianised” and fused with the “All Saints” festivity, as an attempt to substitute the old pagan traditions. Therefore, the 1st of November was set as “All Saints/Hallows” day and the 31th of October remained as “All Hallow Even”, which gradually contracted to Halloween throughout time.

Now we understand the origin of Halloween, but how did it become so popular in the United States?  Although this celebration wasn’t formally recognised by the New England’s puritans, the massive migration of the Irish due to the potato famine in the 19th century reactivated it. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food, wine or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Also, young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

Nowadays, Halloween is seen as a festivity where people use grotesque symbols and costumes to scare other people. It is feared by some, loved by most (especially avid children, hungry for sweets)

So, why do we focus on Halloween? Simple! QCS UK has a wide number of partners and friends in the USA, and we would like to bring us closer in sharing traditions and, ideally, lots of photos of your Halloween activities!