Come and celebrate the scariest time of the year this Shoctober with Evolution Tribe on our Halloween Scarefest. First, a little background on why…
The History of Halloween
Celebrated on October 31st on an annual basis, Halloween is a famously loved by children and adults alike for its candy, spookiness and decorations.
While Halloween has gained fame in pop culture for allowing people to dress up for a night, unbeknownst to the majority, the holiday originated in ancient Celtic times, with a festival called Samhain.
In Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, Samhain was celebrated on October 31st to November 1st with people wearing costumes made of animal skins and lighting bonfires as a way to scare off ghosts who would take advantage of the blurred boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead and cause trouble.
The bonfires were also used to make sacrifices to Celtic deities. Samhain was the Celts’ way to celebrate the New Year, while also marking the beginning of winter.
In 43 A.D., the Romans conquered the Celtic region and resultantly, Feralia (a Roman holiday that allows for the commemoration of the dead) and Pomona (another Roman holiday used to celebrate the Goddess of fruit and trees) were combined with Samhain.
Finally, in 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV moved All Saints’ Day (a Catholic holiday for celebrating martyrs and saints) from May 13th to November 1st.
By the time Christianity became prominent in the Celtic territory, All Saints’ Day and another Christian holiday introduced in 1000 A.D., celebrated on November 2nd (All Souls’ Day), then became holidays celebrated in the Celtic region as well.
All Souls’ Day was similar to Samhain in that it allowed celebrators to dress up in costumes of saints, angels and devils and light bonfires.
Since All Saints’ Day was also called All Hallows, Samhain became known as All Hallows Eve. Eventually, it became the Halloween that is known today.
Halloween is taken to America
After the colonization of America, various traditions of European ethnic groups were combined with those of the Native Americans. In colonial America, Halloween got its spooky element, with scary stories being told. This become an annual tradition in many households that celebrated the holiday. Halloween became even more popularized in the latter half of the 19th century when immigrants began making their entry into the country and putting their twists to the holiday.
Why is Halloween Celebrated?
Halloween is a combination of many different holidays that were previously celebrated at that time of year. While the first holiday from which Halloween was born was used to mark the Celtic New Year, called Samhain, other holidays were also introduced to the mix.
One of these holidays honoured the Christian martyrs and saints, while other holidays honoured the dead. One of the holidays was also celebrated as a farewell to the summer and harvest season and as a welcome to a cold, dark winter.
Halloween gained its haunted and scary qualities through the shared belief that on October 31st (particularly with winter approaching), the border between the spirit world and the world of the living was blurred. Thus, this allowed for spirits or ghosts to enter the living world and “haunt” the living. Different religions and cultures have shared this belief.
How is Halloween Celebrated?
In America, Halloween is known as the start of the holiday season as it is followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas (and other religious holidays, like Hanukkah and Kwanza) and New Year’s.
While Halloween is not celebrated like a religious or cultural holiday (like it originally was), it is still widely loved by all age groups. Nonetheless, the Halloween scarefest has evolved into a holiday filled with many different activities (some scary and some that can cause toothaches the next day).
For children, Halloween is an opportunity to get their yearly fill of sugar by trick or treating. Children and early adolescents usually dress up as anything they want (costumes are not necessarily scary nowadays) and go from house to house trick or treating.
Younger children are usually accompanied by adults, while older children may venture out in groups of like-minded children. While the “treat” part of trick or treat implies candy (with the most iconic and controversial piece of Halloween candy being candy corn), the “trick” part is generally applied to houses where the house’s inhabitants do not provide any treats. Tricks included throwing eggs at a house or even decorating it with toilet paper.
Children often plan for this night weeks in advance to make sure that they get candy from the freer homes in the neighbourhood. Pumpkins are carved out to look like spooky monsters heads, these are picked at the end of the harvest.
Some towns even host family-friendly carnivals and fairs. Festivals are usually home to many fun activities, like haunted houses, costume contests, Jack-o-lantern carving and even apple bobbing competitions.
Another fun aspect of Halloween is the decorations. Many neighbourhoods pride themselves in their competitive and scary decorations. Some communities also host contests to determine the most frightening house.
Halloween’s Significance around the World
While the “American” version of Halloween has been popularized in the media, there are many different versions of the holiday in different countries.
Canada, France and Ireland throw festivities similar to that of the United States and have incorporated many of their own cultural flares as a means to make the holiday less “Americanized” and more familiar for their people.
The Day of the Dead
Still, it is Mexico and Latin America that use Halloween to commemorate the dead (they call it the Day of the Dead). Similarly, people in China also use Halloween as a holiday to remember their deceased ancestors and relatives. In England, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated on November 5th with bonfires and fireworks.
While once Halloween was shunned by many countries, nations around the world have embraced the American version of the holiday within the last few decades because of pop culture and the growing global exposure to social media and the Internet.
Evolution Tribe Halloween Scarefest
Why not join us this year on dates throughout October to celebrate Halloween?
We’ll start at the medieval Scarborough Castle on an 11-mile guided walk/ Halloween Scarefest in the dead of night. You’ll be physically challenged, this may even be the scariest night of your life. Come and join the group on your own or get a group of your own together for this Halloween adventure.