Oct. 31: History of Halloween

Oct 31, 2011 4:01pm
 Oct. 31: History of Halloween

Halloween traditions of pumpkins and costumes originate from the Celtic festival Samhain.

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:

 

1517 Martin Luther Posts Theses

The Protestant Reformation began when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Germany.  The papers outlined Luther’s ideas on how the Roman Catholic Church had been corrupted and what changes should take place.

 

1864 Nevada Becomes 36th State

The United States Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state.  Nevada was not largely populated, but the land was deemed valuable because of its silver deposits.

 

1999 EgyptAir 990 Crashes

EgyptAir flight 990 mysteriously descended into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff from New York.  The flight was bound for Cairo.

 

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.

Famous Birthdays

1795 John Keats

1950 John Candy

1961 Peter Jackson

1963 Rob Schneider

1966 Adrock

1966 Mike O’Malley

1967 Vanilla Ice

2000 Willow Smith

 

Relive National Candy Corn day with Oct. 30: Day in History.

View more videos from This Month in History: October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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