Fall has arrived, the weather will be getting cooler, the leaves are changing color, and the stores have stocked their shelves with plenty of candy and Halloween costumes. Halloween is an annual holiday that many children, as well as adults, look forward to each year. Although the modern celebration of Halloween is considered a day for dressing up, carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, the historical roots of Halloween is somewhat different than the modern version.
What is Halloween?
Halloween, also known as All Saints’ Eve and All Hallows’ Eve, has changed somewhat throughout history. This holiday, observed on October 31, originated in the Celtic fringes of Britain and different versions have been adapted over the decades. Many countries around the world continue to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve and it's a favorite holiday for children and adults. The modern, Americanized version of Halloween, which typically includes dressing in cute costumes and going door-to-door collecting candy, is a pieced together version of several different historical traditions, legends, customs, and beliefs.
The History Behind Halloween
There are different versions of how Halloween began; some believe the holiday originated from Samhain (summer’s end), a Celtic pagan festival in which the end of harvest season was celebrated. Other’s believed the end of harvest season was the time when the walls between their world and the next world would become thin enough for spirits to pass through. Another version is that it was the time to pray for the souls that had not reached heaven yet.
The History of Trick-or-Treating
The phrase "trick-or-treat" came to be during the mid-late 1900’s in America. The tradition, which was popular among the poor, was an opportunity for kids, as well as adults, to dress in costume and go from house to house asking for money or sweet treats. When going house to house, knocking on the door and saying trick (pranking) or treat (sweets or money), was the “door knocker’s” way of threatening pranks for sweets, so those who withheld the treats may have had a silly prank played on them.
Why Costumes are Worn
The historical festivals and the current version of Halloween both had one thing in common — they featured people dressing up in costumes. However, the tradition of wearing costumes has altered over the decades. In the 17th century, costumes were worn as a disguise to prevent the living from being recognized by the dead; theses costumes consisted of dressing as skeletons, witches, and ghosts. Although ghosts, witches, and skeletons are still popular costumes, modern disguises are often made to mimic superheroes, realistic careers and scary monsters.
The History of Jack-O-Lanterns
The phrase “Jack-O-Lantern" originated around the mid-1600’s as a description of a night watchman that was holding a lantern who went by the name of Jack. Earlier Jack-O-Lanterns were carved out of turnips. There are different legends surrounding the Jack-O-Lantern, but the most popular is that “Jack” was banished by an evil spirit to spend eternity in a turnip. When the turnip (pumpkin) was carved, the glowing inside was meant to be a connection between “Jack” and his glowing lantern.
After your child's big candy haul, remember to limit the kid’s sweets to only a few pieces each day and encourage them to rinse with water after eating candy.
From everyone at Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we hope you have a spooky Halloween! Check our page for events and fun activities, including our yearly candy trade-in!