“Trick or treat!” That’s a phrase we’ve been saying every Halloween since our childhoods. Halloween is a day filled with pranks, games, creative costumes, and most importantly, candy! As kids, all of us used to get excited when we got back home from trick-or-treating, got to count how much candy we had gotten, and finally, got to gobble it all up. However, have you ever wondered why we began celebrating Halloween?
Every year, Halloween is celebrated on October 31. Halloween originated from Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival that goes back 2000 years. The Celts mostly lived in the areas which are now known as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France. They celebrated their new year on November 1. However, this day marked the beginning of a dark, forbidding winter season where the harvests would die and where the people would have to survive in the freezing cold weather. On the night of October 31, the Celts believed that the worlds between the living and dead would meet. After this convergence, the Celts thought that the dead would return to earth in the form of ghosts to destroy their crops and to create chaos. During Samhain, it was believed that the presence of these ghosts would make it simpler for the Celtic priests (Druids) to foresee the future. As a result, the Druids lit large sacred bonfires in which the Celts burned their crops and sacrificed animals. As the Celts gathered around the bonfire, they would wear costumes made of animal heads and skins, and they would try to predict each other’s fates.
After a few years, most of Celtic land was seized by the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire began ruling the Celtics, two Roman festivals (Feralia and a festival dedicated to the Roman goddess Pomona) merged with Samhain.
In the 9th century, the influence of Christianity spread into Celtic lands and soon Christianity melded with early Celtic rites. Later, on November 2nd, the church created a special day to honor the dead. This celebration was known as All Souls’ Day. Samhain and All Souls’ Day were similar to each other in many ways. In both celebrations, people wore costumes, lit bonfires, and did parades. Additionally, Europeans celebrated All Saints Day on November 1st, which was also known as All-Hallow’s. Samhain festival was celebrated on the night before it, which was known as All-Hallows Eve. Ultimately, the night of Samhain of the Celtics became known as Halloween.
As the years passed by, Halloween was introduced into America (during the colonial time period), and new entertaining traditions were created to make the celebration even spookier and more fun!
Fun Facts About Halloween
- Jack-o-lanterns were once made of potatoes and turnips.
- The birthplace of Halloween is Ireland.
- Halloween is typically celebrated in countries such as the United States, Canada, and Ireland.
- The Halloween celebration generates the second highest revenue only after the Christmas holidays.
- It is expected that consumers will spend an average of $102.74 on Halloween this year.
- The fastest pumpkin carving was done in 16.47 seconds by Stephen Clarke.
- The original name of candy corn was “chicken feed.”
Best Places to Celebrate Halloween
A few fun (yet spooky) places to visit include the following:
- Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Studios (Orlando, Florida)
- The Derry Halloween Carnival (Londonderry, Northern Ireland)
- The Festival of the Dead (Salem, Massachusetts)
- Savannah Ghost Tours and many more spine-chilling events! (Savannah, Georgia)
- Sleepy Hollow (Mount Pleasant, New York)
- Krewe of Boo! (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Buena Park (Buena Park, California)
- The Haunted Corvin Castle (Hunedoara, Romania)
Going to all of those popular Halloween attractions is certainly a great way to spend Halloween. However, during high school, it may be difficult to get time to travel to all of those places. For that issue, the perfect solution is to visit local attractions! A fun place I visited a couple of days ago was the Downtown Alpharetta Scarecrow Harvest. The scarecrows definitely gave a mixture of fall and Halloween vibes. This year, Alpharetta has a record breaking amount of community scarecrows. Alpharetta downtown is currently filled with more than 150 scarecrows that were made by schools, local businesses, families, and more! This event will be open until November 1st, so be sure to take a stroll around Alpharetta downtown along with your friends and family!
Some other more scary and fun-filled local attractions/events include:
- Fright Fest at Six Flags
- Stone Mountain Pumpkin Festival
- The Escape Game Atlanta
- Haunted Houses/Ghost Tours
- And much more!
Here’s an exciting trivia to do with your friends and family before you go! Happy Halloween!