History of Halloween
Halloween dates back to the Celtic farming festival Samhain. As the crops died at the end of the harvest season, farmers believed there was a day when spirits could rise from their graves. During Samhain, people would dress in disguise to fool and ward off the spirits, and hope that their land would survive through the winter.
In the eighth century, Christians sought to transform the pagan holiday. Pope Gregory III declared Nov. 1 to be the feast of All Saints’ Day. The night before became known as All Hollow’s Eve.
Modern Halloween traditions and folklore first came to America in the 19th century with the influx of Irish immigrants. Carving turnips and turning them into lanterns was one of the Irish customs that honored the souls stuck in purgatory. Since pumpkins were easier to carve than turnips, this ritual adapted into jack-o-lanterns as All Hollow’s Eve celebrations took shape in America.
The big business of Halloween boomed during the 20th century. Mass produced costumes, candy and decorations meant big profits.
According to the National Retail Federation, the top five costumes of 2011 for adults are a witch, pirate, vampire, zombie and Batman character. The top five for children are princess, witch, Spiderman, pirate and pumpkin. The most popular pet costumes are pumpkin, devil and hot dog.
Also on This Day:
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2005 Alito Nominated to SCOTUS
President Bush nominated U.S. Appleals Court Judge Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.
1795 John Keats
1950 John Candy
1961 Peter Jackson
1963 Rob Schneider
1966 Mike O’Malley
1967 Vanilla Ice
2000 Willow Smith
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