Halloween is here. Days before the spooky holiday most people find themselves wondering what they're going to dress up as or are putting the final touches on their costumes. But have you ever asked yourself how it all began?
Today Halloween is all about scary costumes, tricks and treats. But behind it all lies quite an interesting story. Learn about the actual history of this holiday below.
Halloween owes its origins to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain more than 2000 years ago. It was observed annually on November 1.
It was said that on the eve of the Samhain festival, the dead would return to Earth as ghosts. To keep the restless spirits out of their homes, people would leave out food and wine on their doorstep, as well as wear masks. That way they would confuse the spirits, who were unable to recognize those they wished to drag into the spirit world.
The popularity of the Samhain festival gradually waned. However, during the 8th century AD, the Christian Church transformed the holiday into All Saints' Day. Over time, the holiday took on the name we know and use today - Halloween.
The phrase "trick or treat" has become as much a part of Halloween as the costumes and candy. The tradition originates from Medieval Britain's "souling and guising". On November 2, the poor would make cakes called "soul cakes" in honor of their deceased loved ones. This was called "souling".
"Guising" in turn, was when young people would dress up in costumes of all sorts and collect food, wine, money and other gifts. To earn these, they had to sing, recite poems or tell jokes. Then in the 19th century, Irish and Scottish immigrants in the US who were living together in one community combined these two traditions. The result - trick or treat.
In the early days, celebrants relied more on tricks rather than treats. In the 50s, Halloween took on the form we know today. Since then, at the end of October every year, the streets become filled with happy children wandering around the neighborhood, hungry for treats.
In recent years, Halloween has grown into the 2nd most commercialized holiday following Christmas. The US alone spends $2 billion on costumes and another $4 billion annually for Halloween candy and bonbons.