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Halloween History

by Senior Airman Nika Glover
Thunderbolt staff writer

What are now children, parties, costumes, pumpkins and candy, many moons ago would have been witches, ghost, black cats, goblin and bats. A once bewitching day has now become a spooky children's holiday.

Halloween got its start well before Christmas and Thanksgiving were even thought of and it has changed significantly over the years.

Several centuries ago when farming was the main source of employment and obtaining food, the seasons of the year played a big role in the way life was lived.

In Europe there were only two seasons called Beltane and Samhain also known as life and death or growing season and winter time.

November first marked the first day of the season of death when all the plants died and leaves changed color. It was the day medieval Christians celebrated All Saints Day and Pagans celebrated the end of the harvest season.

Villagers believed the night before All Saints Day, spirits who had died in the previous year would return and it was their duty to help the spirits reach the land of the dead by carrying them inside hollowed turnips.

On that night, fairies, good sprits, goblin, evil sprits and witches wandered the land. To scare the bad spirits away, the villagers would dress up in costumes. The fairies and good spirits were thought to have disguised themselves as beggars who went door to door asking for handouts and getting treats in return.

Since the Pagans and Romans had very similar versions of the holiday, when the cultures merged, it eventually became one holiday for all.

Through the merging, All Saint's Day became All Hallows Day. The night before, when the spirits were to have roamed the land, became known as All Hallows Evening or Hallow Evening. Halloween eventually became the slang term.

By the time it was called Halloween it was a very unpopular holiday in America and was slow to catch on with the majority of the Protestant American Colonies.

But with the large amount of European immigrations during the 1800s, the holiday caught on. The first official Halloween was celebrated in Minnesota in 1921. Four years later it was celebrated all over the nation.

What was once hollowed turnips became pumpkins and the door-to-door fairies became the trick-or-treating children and their good treats became candy.

No more were the witches, ghost and goblin roaming the land. They were now little batmen, princesses, cowboys and children beneath white sheets with eye cutouts quickly making their rounds to each door in their neighborhood hoping to brag to their buddies at school the next day that they got the biggest bag of candy ever.

(Historical information provided by the MacDill Air Force Base library)

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