Why Do We Celebrate Halloween?
Getting outside for some exercise, fresh air, and enjoying the natural world is one of our favorite things to do as a company. So it should go without saying that we love Halloween! It's one of the few holidays that encourages parents and children alike to get outside in their communities, talk to neighbors, and have a lot of fun doing it.
Halloween has a long and ancient history. It's been celebrated for centuries. But what are the holiday's origins?
Why do we celebrate Halloween?
Halloween can be traced back to an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. The Celts could be found living in France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom 2,000 years ago. Samhain was celebrated to mark the end of summer and the beginning of winter. To them, it was their new year. And during the new year, the world of the living and the world of the dead came closer together. The barriers between the two worlds were blurred, which allowed spirits of the dead to return to Earth.
While we all miss those who have passed, the return of the spirits of the dead wasn't considered a good thing by The Celts. They believed that these spirits caused trouble and damaged crops, making their harvest season less bountiful.
To counter these spirits, The Celts would build large bonfires where people gathered to make sacrifices to Celtic deities. They would wear costumes at these bonfires, which is where the notion of dressing up for Halloween originates.
When Rome captured territory that belonged to The Celts, Samhain began to fuse with another festival called Feralia. Feralia was also celebrated in late October and also commemorated the dead. Feralia celebrated the Roman goddess Pomona, who was the goddess of fruit and trees. This may explain why bobbing for apples is a common Halloween and autumn activity.
In 1,000 AD, the Christian church, whose influence had spread through most of Europe, began celebrating All Souls' Day on November 2. It's believed All Souls' Day was intended to replace the pagan festivals celebrated by The Celts up to that point with something based on Christianity. The celebration was similar; dressing up in costumes, bonfires, and parades. At the time, All Souls' Day was called All-Hallowmas, from the Middle English word Alholowmesse. Over time, it became All-Hallows Eve, which eventually became Halloween.
What about trick-or-treating?
Trick-or-treating, the practice of going door to door in costume to ask for treats, was a more recent addition to Halloween celebrations, but one with roots in formerly Celtic territory. The tradition was brought by Irish and English immigrants to North America in the 1800s.
Around the same time, fears of witchcraft and pranks lead many to push for the removal of the spooky aspects of Halloween, the ghosts and other scary stuff, in favor of a more tame Halloween. Since then, much of the original spirit of the holiday is no longer actively celebrated.
How can I have a more eco friendly Halloween?
As people grow more concerned about our impact on the environment, trying new ways to celebrate our holidays more sustainably is becoming more and more important. There are a few simple things you can do to lessen your impact when celebrating Halloween. Be sure to bring a reusable sack, like a pillowcase, to collect candy, and reuse your Halloween costumes year after year. If you can, encourage walking from house to house instead of driving to save on fuel as well!