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Halloween as a celebration is second only to Christmas and seems to be enjoyed more by adults as time goes on. While children have always been fond of dressing up in silly, strange or spooky costumes, adults enjoy getting in on this typically American holiday planning outdoor decorations, hosting parties and setting up Halloween Village displays of all sizes.
Halloween emigrated to the US in the 1800s along with the thousands of Europeans who flocked into our country in the hopes of a better life. With them came many of their countries’ cultural traditions, things that were familiar to them, including the celebration of “All Hallows Eve” on the day before All Saints’ Day, November 1st. It was long held that on the eve of All Saints, the souls of the departed were released and allowed to roam freely throughout the world. Some of these spirits were evil and believers thought that if they disguised their appearances, they would be protected from the harm the evil spirits could cause. Hence, the disguises were the first costumes. Many were scary, hoping to send away the evil spirits.
Everyone knows that when a black cat crosses your path bad luck is sure to follow but how did this “curse” come to be? Thousands of years ago cats enjoyed statues in ancient Egypt, but later were considered to be the reincarnation of the devil. In fact, Pope Gregory IX declared them evil. Many were put to death and black cats became quite rare. Even today, it is much harder for animal shelters to place black kittens than cats of any other color.
Another part of the celebration was the lighting of large bonfires as a cleansing ritual. It was thought that evil spirits as well as harmful insects, rodents and bats were also drawn to the fires. This is probably how bats became associated with Halloween. Besides the fires, the ancients also carved turnips and placed lights inside hoping to attach and wipeout more evils – in the United States pumpkins became an easier vegetable to carve. The Faces we carve into the pumpkins were also an effort to scare away evil. Now it’s all good fun!
HALLOWEEN DID YOU KNOW: