A History of Halloween: All Hallows Eve, When Did Halloween Start
Halloween takes place on October 31st, but what is the history of Halloween and where did the term All Hallows Eve come from?
The history of the term Halloween is a shortened version of All Hallows' Even, which comes from an Old English term Eallra Halgena aefen, the Eve of All Saints' Day, which is on November 1st. All Saints' Day and Halloween used to be celebrated on the same day, but now they are on two different days.
The festival of Halloween has its roots in the Samhain, which was celebrated in medieval Ireland and Scotland and it means summer's end. It means the end of the lighter half of the year and the beginning of the darker half. Samhain comes from the Celtic polytheism, which dates back to Roman times.
It also borrows from the Festival of the Dead, as the Celts used to believe that on Samhain the boundary between the living and the dead became so thin that spirits could pass through from one side to another. Harmful spirits were banished, while the spirits of your friends and familes were welcomed. When warding off harmful spirits, you could wear costumes and masks and that is where the tradition of wearing costumes comes from. The more harmful you disgused yourself to be, the more the harmful spirits would want to leave your home.
Samhain was also a time to stock up on food for the winter, have a bonfire and cast the bones of the slaughtered livestock in to the fire. Many traditions to this day.
During Samhain the Irish and Scottish used to place candles in their windows to honour those they have lost during the year, and they would carve pumpkins or turnips and the term of Jack-O-Latern is belived to lead back to the tale of Stingy Jack.
According to legend, Stingy Jack was a drinking, gambling farmer, and he tricked the devil in to climbing a tree and carving a cross in to the trunk. This angered the devil so he cursed Stingy Jack that he would have to wander the earth at night with the only light he had, a candle inside a hollow turnip.
Over time, more popular culture legends have become associated with Halloween, but the original traditions remain largely the same.