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“The History of Halloween”

Halloween, a celebration which takes place on the night of October 31, is a day for children to wear costumes and go trick-or-treating. Halloween has a variety of customs and rituals that carry both positive and negative attributes.  Many myths that surround this day date back to the ancient new year festivals and festivals of the dead.  The history of Halloween began with the Celtic festival of Samhain.  The Celts resided over 2,000 years ago in what is known today as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France.  They celebrated their new year beginning on November 1, honoring Samhain, the Celtic Lord of Death.  These people believed that Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their homes for this evening. These were the souls of the wicked who had died during the past year.  the festival, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, built bonfires of oak branches which they believed were sacred.  They burned animals, crops, and perhaps human beings as sacrifices.  People wore costumes made of animal heads and skins, and told fortunes about the coming year by examining the remains of the animals that were sacrificed.  The Celts became Christians and the church established All Saints Day making the old pagan customs a part of this holy day. 

A mass was held known as All Hallomas.  The evening before All Saints' Day was known as All Hallows' Eve or All Halloween,  and human sacrifices are not politically correct in our culture. However, trick-or-treating is widely accepted by many people in the United States.  Children dress in costumes and put on masks going door to door shouting, "trick-or-treat."  Other traditions include: storytelling, fortunetelling, and bobbing for apples.  A jack-o-lantern is also customary during Halloween.  A jack-o-lantern is a carved out pumpkin with a funny or scary face.  Sometimes candles and lights are placed inside.  In the mid-1900's, Halloween pranks became more dangerous and unpredictable.  To avoid having tricks played on them, neighbors would give children treats such as candy, fruit, and pennies.  Traffic accidents were also a problem on this day, alerting families to give parties and plan community activities instead. 

Today, many cities sponsor events for Halloween to protect children and keep them off the streets.  Here are some tips to consider for your children on Halloween:  To  prevent accidents, children should wear brightly colored costumes or attach reflecting tape on their costumes in order for motorists to see them.  Masks can sometimes block vision, parents can, instead, use makeup to paint a mask on the child's face. 

Children should visit homes in their own neighborhoods, and the younger ones be accompanied by an adult.  Parents should also examine their children's bags, and allow them only to eat packaged candy.  Most people do not believe in ghosts or goblins, but these spirits still remain symbols of Halloween.


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