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The history of Halloween

3 kids wearing Halloween costumes growling at the cameraWhile we are all running around figuring out our costumes and decorating the house for Halloween, I thought it’d be good for kids to find out just where the tradition came from.

It isn’t a US tradition, but a Celtic and Roman one…

Halloween’s roots have been traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. This would happen around the time between autumn and winter – obviously for us, that’s spring and summer, but since it originated on the other side of the world (around the UK), that makes sense.

The Celts celebrated their new year on the turn of the seasons – November 1. They believed that on the last day of the year, the border between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred, so ghosts could walk the earth. This is where the themes of ghosts and ghouls on Halloween came from. The Celts would also wear costumes during this festival, and that is where costume-wearing for Halloween originated.

Long after Samhain and the Celts, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1st All Saints’ Day, to honour saints and martyrs. Some of the traditions of Samhain were incorporated into the celebrating of All Saints’ Day. The day before, October 31st, was named All Hallows’ Eve – now Halloween.

It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that Halloween became celebrated in America, and it came about from Irish and English immigrants. Halloween then became about communities get-togethers where you would tell ghost stories and eat lots of food – a tradition we still follow.

The tradition of going door-to-door in costume – now the “trick or treat” tradition – came from the origins of children asking for food, and they would pray for the person’s dead relatives in return. Eventually this became less about the prayers, and more about poor people asking for food and money, as the general public would be used to this happening on Halloween.

Jack-o’-Lanterns, which are less common in Australia, came from the carving of turnips to ward off evil spirits. This eventually became pumpkins instead, as they were easier to source and carve. Now they’re just a spooky decoration on your doorstep.

Check out some other great décor and food ideas to get ready for Halloween on Friday, and don’t forget to take lots of photos of your little ones in their cute costumes!

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