Halloween has diverse history

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Jennifer Werner
jwerner2@radford.edu

Halloween, a holiday at the end of October commonly associated with ghosts, ghouls, pumpkins and copious amounts of candy has had a very diverse past.

Originally, Halloween was the Celtic Festival of Samhain, a pagan celebration that embraced the immersion of the living with the dead, according to history.com. The people dressed in robes and danced around lit bonfires as an attempt to ward off any unwanted spirits roaming the land.

These pagans believed that their gods had opened a doorway for the dead to enter the world of the living to create havic and play tricks on the mortals. In order to create peace with their gods, the pagans, wrought with fear of an impending danger, offered sacrifices as an attempt to ease the unruliness and create a successful season.

During the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared October 31 as All Hallows Eve. The following day was dubbed All Saints Day. The dates were chosen in accordance with the earth’s natural cycle. Summer came to a close and the land became barren and in a sense, dead.

Although All Hallows Eve was a Christian holiday, it did allow for the continuation of some of the Samhain traditions. However, it was a time to pray and worship at a vigil.

The next day, All Saints Day, was now a time of remembrance for both martyrs, Saints and the spirits of loved ones. Christians would gather to pray and feast, believing that the souls of the departed were brought back to visit.

Over time, All Hallows Eve become commonly known as Halloween, a more secular holiday. Although Catholics continue to celebrate All Hallows Eve, the vast majority spend Halloween as a time for trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes  and celebrating the dark side of life.