Here at Halloween Horror Shop we think it’s never too early to get into the spooky spirit! So today we’re brushing up on our freaky Halloween facts, and we think you should too!
After all, Halloween is our favourite time of year, but how many of these fun facts did you know?
Where did it all begin?
So we all know that Halloween is celebrated annually on 31st October, but this celebration was very different when it originated some 2000 years ago!
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. The new year was celebrated on November 1st at this time, and Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of 31st October they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
To commemorate the event, Celtic priests built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
The Roman Empire
By 43AD the Roman Empire had conquered most of the Celtic territory. During their ruling, the Celtic festival of Samhain was combined with two Roman celebrations.
Feralia was one celebration that commemorated the passing of the dead. The second festival was a day to honour Pomona the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, who’s symbol is an apple so could be where apple bobbing originated!
By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread to Celtic lands, and in 1000AD the church made 2nd November All Souls Day, a day to honour the dead. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain with large bonfires, people dressing in costumes and parades. People would dress up as angels, saints and devils. This celebration was also called All-Hallows and the night before it therefore, All-Hallows Eve, which of course eventually became Halloween!
Halloween and America
Halloween started off more common in Maryland and the southern colonies of America, and as the customs of European ethnic groups and American Indians merged, a distinctly American Halloween began to form.
The first celebrations included ‘play parties’ which were public events that were held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbours would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making and by the middle of the 19th century, annual autumn festivities were common. Later on in the 19th century, America experienced a surge of immigrants, particularly millions of Irish fleeing the potato famine who helped to popularise Halloween nationally. Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. And from there a new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow! Today, Americans are still the biggest fans of Halloween and spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.
We hope that this short blog has helped you to brush up on your Halloween facts!
If it’s got you in the mood for some early, spooky preparations, don’t forget to head over to our Halloween Horror Shop website, where you’ll find everything you need for the spookiest Halloween yet. From Indoor and Outdoor Lights, to Props, Fancy Dress Accessories and more, you’ll find spook-tacular decorations for all tastes and budgets on our website!