History of Halloween

HalloweenEvery year people all over the U.S. celebrate Halloween, but many don’t know where or why there is a Halloween.  Halloween  originated over 2,000 years ago in Celtic Europe.  What we consider November 1, was the Celts’  New Year’s Day, called Samhain (SAH-win).

On Samhain eve—what we know as Halloween—spirits were thought to walk the Earth as they traveled to the afterlife. Fairies, demons, and other creatures were also said to be about.  In an early form of trick-or-treating, Celts costumed as spirits are believed to have gone from house to house engaging in silly acts in exchange for food and drink—a practice inspired perhaps by an earlier custom of leaving food and drink outdoors as offerings to supernatural beings.

Samhain was later transformed as Christian leaders co-opted pagan holidays. In the seventh century Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1 All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day.  The night before Samhain continued to be observed with bonfires, costumes, and parades, though under a new name: All Hallows’ Eve—later “Halloween.”

Halloween comes to America…..European immigrants brought Halloween to the United States, and the celebration really gathered steam in the 1800s, when Irish-American immigration exploded.

Anoka, Minnesota, may be home to the United States’ oldest official Halloween celebration. Beginning in 1920, the city began staging a parade and bonfire.

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