What we learned about Halloween:

History of Halloween (Alex)
  • Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, marking the last day of their year. It meant the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter.
  • Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. These ghosts caused trouble and allowed priests to make predictions about the future.
  • Samhain was celebrated with a huge bonfire to make sacrifices to Celtic deities. They wore costumes made from animal skins and heads.
  • At the end of the sacred bonfire, the people would light their hearths with the sacred fire from the bonfire to keep them warm through the winter.
  • Bobbing for apples probably originated from the Roman Empire when it took over Celtic lands and combined its festival in honor of the goddess of fruit and trees with Samhain.
  • Christian influence brought All Saints Day on November 1. The night before was called All-hallows Eve, and eventually Halloween.
  • In America, Halloween celebration was limited due to strict Protestant belief in the colonies. The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance and sing. Later, new immigrants would popularize Halloween
  • Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition.
  • In the 1800s there was a movement to make Halloween more of a community event and less of a spooky superstitious celebration. Eventually it became a night of mischief and vandalism. Reviving the trick-or-treating custom was a method of avoiding vandalism, hence the name “trick-or-treat.” In theory, you could prevent tricks being played on you by giving candy to the neighborhood kids.
http://www.history.com/topics/halloween

Halloween (Mychala)
  • Halloween, or the Hallow E'en as they call it in Ireland , means All Hallows Eve, or the night before the 'All Hallows', also called 'All Hallowmas', or 'All Saints', or 'All Souls' Day, observed on November 1
  • Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherians used to observe All Hallows Day to honor all Saints in heaven, known or unknown
  • The Romans observed the holiday of Feralia, intended to give rest and peace to the departed. Participants made sacrifices in honor of the dead, offered up prayers for them, and made oblations to them. The festival was celebrated on February 21, the end of the Roman year.
  • In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day to replace the pagan festival of the dead. It was observed on May 13.
  • Later, Gregory III changed the date to November 1. The Greek Orthodox Church observes it on the first Sunday after Pentecost
  • The American version of Halloween Day celebration owes its origin to the ancient (pre-Christian) Druidic fire festival called "Samhain", celebrated by the Celts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland
  • In Ireland the festival was known as Samhein, or La Samon, the Feast of the Sun. In Scotland, the celebration was known as Hallowe'en. In Welsh it's Nos Galen-gaeof (that is, the Night of the Winter Calends.
http://www.theholidayspot.com/halloween/history.htm