glowing jack-o-lantern
  • Halloween dates back to over 2000 years ago
  • The Celts--who lived in Great Britain, Ireland, and northern France--celebrated Samhain on October 31st
  • The priests (called druids) burned big bonfires on hills to frighten away the spooks whom they believed were present on this last day of their year
  • In A.D. 43 the Romans conquered the Celts-they  had different beliefs, but they did celebrate a harvest ceremony on October 31st
  • In the years that followed, the Celts accepted Christianity, and in the A.D 700's the Roman Catholic Church November 1st would be named All  Saints Day or All Hallows' to honor special people who had died  
  • October 31st therefore became All Hallow's Eve
  • This name was shortened to Halloween, a night when people visited cemeteries and prayed for loved ones buried there
  • Many people still believed that spooks wandered around on October 31st
  • These people still burned bonfires, told scary stories, ate nuts and apples...began a game called "bobbing for apples"


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  • In some parts  of England, people went from house to house begging for soul-cakes (currant buns) or a penny
  • Others preferred making mischief, often wearing masks to disguise themselves
  • Over in Ireland people also went door-to-door asking for food and money, promising good luck for those who were generous and trouble for the stingy 
  • The Irish used hollowed out turnips, rutabagas, and potatoes with ugly faces carved into them to light the way for their All Hallow's Eve activities
  • In Great Britain the belief persisted that the world of the spirits came closer to the world of the living on Halloween
  • In Ireland people ate "callcannon"--a mixture of mashed potatoes, parsnips, and onions
  • Hidden in the food were four objects: a ring, a china doll, a thimble, and a gold coin
  • Whoever got the ring would marry that year; the finder of the doll would have children; whoever got the thimble would never marry; and the finder of the coin would get rich
  • Others tossed apple peel over their left shoulder--whatever initial it appeared to form would be that of the person they would marry


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  • In the 1840's, during the potato famine, many Irish people went to the United States, bringing their Halloween traditions with them
  • One story they brought over involved a man named Jack who couldn't get into heaven or hell  after death...all he could do was wander around in the dark
  • The Devil finally felt sorry for Jack and gave him a glowing coal which Jack stuck into a carved out turnip...Americans substitued the local vegetable, the pumpkin--The jack-o-lantern :-)
  • By the end  of the 1800's, people all across America were celebrating Halloween
  • They especially liked trick-or-treating, a tradition coming from both the Irish and the English
  • They also fell in love with costumes as a part of Halloween, reminiscient of the Irish and English who donned masks and wore costumes for Guy  Fawkes Day and All Hallows' Day
  • Unfortunately, many pranksters got carried away doing leaders came up with solutions to keep the celebration of  Halloween alive and well...something we can all be thankful for to this day!