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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

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Halloween: from ancient traditions to modern celebrations

Every+Oct.+31%2C+people+around+the+world+celebrate+Halloween.+This+spooky+holiday+has+a+rich+and+complex+history+that+can+be+traced+back+to+thousands+of+years.+%0A
Photo by David Menidrey via Unsplash
Every Oct. 31, people around the world celebrate Halloween. This spooky holiday has a rich and complex history that can be traced back to thousands of years.

Every year, on the 31st of October, people across the world don costumes, indulge in sweet treats, and partake in a night of spooky festivities. Known as Halloween, this popular holiday has a rich and complex history that stretches back thousands of years. How exactly did the spookiest day of the year come to be?

The earliest traces of what we now call Halloween can be found in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the onset of winter, was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. The Celts believed that on the night of October 31st, the boundary between the living and the dead blurred, allowing spirits to roam the earth. To ward off these spirits, people would light bonfires and wear costumes, often consisting of animal heads and skins.

With the spread of the Roman Empire, elements of Roman festivals such as Feralia and Pomona, the festival of the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, were incorporated into Samhain. As Christianity gained prominence, the Church sought to replace pagan rituals with Christian observances. In the 9th century, the Catholic Church designated Nov. 1st as All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows’ Day), a day to honor saints and martyrs. The evening before became known as All Hallows’ Eve, eventually leading to the modern term “Halloween.”

The celebration of Halloween began to take shape in the United States in the 19th century, as Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their traditions to North America. The merging of different cultural practices led to the evolution of modern Halloween customs. The tradition of trick-or-treating likely has its roots in the medieval practice of “souling,” where the poor would go door to door on All Souls’ Day, offering prayers for the dead in exchange for food. By the early 20th century, Halloween had become a community-centered holiday with activities like parties, parades, and the popularization of jack-o’-lanterns, originally carved from turnips in Ireland, and later from pumpkins in America.

Today, Halloween has transcended its religious and cultural origins, becoming a widely commercialized and secular holiday celebrated by people of various backgrounds worldwide. It has evolved into a vibrant celebration of elaborate costumes, haunted attractions, and themed parties. The commercial industry around Halloween has expanded to include decorations, costumes, and a diverse array of themed merchandise.

Despite its commercialization, Halloween continues to serve as an occasion for community bonding and the expression of cultural and artistic creativity. With its colorful history and ever-evolving customs, Halloween stands as a testament to the enduring power of cultural heritage and the human spirit of celebration.

Happy Halloween, folks.

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About the Contributor
Sindhuja Pannuri, Staff Reporter
Sindhuja (Sindhu) Pannuri is a senior entering her second year of Wingspan staff. At school, she is captain of the varsity debate team and President of Youth and Government. In her free time, she reads books to escape reality and enjoys boxing in the ring. She’s so excited for what this year will hold!

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