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Truth of the Spook

A History of Halloween

Miranda Hall, Staff Writer

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It’s that time of year again, the leaves are falling, the smell of pumpkin (and pumpkin flavored everything) is in the air. Everyone is scattered about looking for the perfect costume for October 31st. Today, Halloween is perceived as a highly commercialized holiday, paid for and promoted by major corporations. Kids dress up in colorful costumes based on their favorite characters and go door to door asking for candy, while many young adults dress up in sultry or basic costumes to attend parties. This holiday wasn’t always a pop culture parade that sexualizes and glamorizes the scary or spooky things of years past, it has gone through many changes over time to reach the point it has now.

Many have heard Halloween be called All Hallows Eve, or even Devil’s night, but this is not what it started as. Halloween originated in Ireland over 2000 years ago, however it was not known as Halloween then, but rather Samhain. This was a festival that celebrated the end of the lighter half of the year and the beginning of the darker half of the year, it also was the night that the separation between the worlds of the living and the dead is lifted and spirits can walk the Earth. The tradition of wearing masks also goes back to Samhain, used to protect the wearers from evil spirits who have returned to cause harm. Those who would wear masks, dressing as the evil spirits, would be passed over.

I sat down with my friend Ian Smith from Dublin, Ireland to gain a bit more insight into the festival of Samhain. He told me that they actually don’t learn much about the ancient festival in their schools, but, that they do receive an entire week off for the celebration and it finishes with fireworks. He also told me that in Irish Halloween is said as “oiche shamhna”, which directly translates to the eve of Samhain bringing the traditions of old into the present even if the younger generations do not know them.

Because Ireland is traditionally a Catholic country and Samhain is a pagan festival, it had to be altered to maintain the idea of Catholicism. However, the festival of Samhain did not remain in Ireland, as Irish immigrants traveled overseas to escape the famine of their country their traditions followed suit. Upon arriving in the United States of America, a predominantly Christian country, it was further altered to fit the customs of the country. These were things such as carving pumpkins to celebrate the fall harvest.

Halloween has come a long way from its galiec origins, but it is still a tradition many people hold near and dear to their hearts. So go out and be spooky!

Happy Halloween! 

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