We’ve all dressed up at halloween and gone trick or treating, hoping for neighbours to give us sweets, and when we got to old for that, we’d watch horror movies or go to halloween parties. But where does it come from, and why do we love halloween so much ?
Well, it is thought to come from an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would wear costumes and light bonfires (1) to scare away ghosts, to welcome a new year. However, in the 8th century, Pope Gregory III made November 1st a time to honour all saints and martyrs, the new holiday incorporated some of the old traditions of Samhain, but the evening before was known as All Hallos’Eve and later Halloween. Yet, as this time was known as new year, it welcomed colder and darker days, causing many deaths and people believed that on the 31st of October ghosts would return to earth. The ghosts were thought to cause trouble and damage crops.
However the usual costumes were animal skins and heads.
Next, when the Europeans colonised America, because of protestant beliefs the Halloween celebrations were very limited. But with the beliefs of different Europeans and Native Americans, they would celebrate the harvest (2), then the people would share ghost stories and tell each others fortunes, giving a different aspect of Halloween. However when the Irish fled the potato famine and came to America, the traditions were mixed and costumes were adopted, and they would go from house to house asking for money or food, and eventually became to “trick-or-treat“ (3).
Never the less, today when we are young, we will go to neighbours and ask for sweets, biscuits or even money to buy sweets, and obviously dressed for the occasion, witches or ghosts are big favorites. But with never ending fashion changes, this decade the biggest choices would be vampires or werewolves. It is also a reason for us to be someone we’re not for a night. And then, when we get to old to trick-or-treat, if it’s partying until late or watching horror movies all night, there is something we all love about halloween.
(1) Bonfire : un grand feu en plein air
(2) Harvest : récolte
(3) “Trick or Treat” : “Un sort ou un bonbon”