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Lakewood Times

    Halloween Traditions


    Halloween, an age-old holiday celebrated by hundreds of thousands of people throughout the modern world, is known for its long and rich traditions, some dating all the way back to ancient times. Halloween was once the Celtic holiday, Samhain, in which Celtic people danced around a sacred fire, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, the “darker season.” Later on, Pope Gregory III declared All Saints Day a holiday to honor the multitude of Catholic Saints. Eventually, Samhain and All Saints Day merged together, as did many Pagan and Christian holidays, becoming All Hallows Eve, better known as Halloween.  

    Now, in the United States and other parts of the world, Halloween is a time of pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, and dressing up in scary costumes. Halloween became popular in the United States in the mid-19th century, with popular traditions like trick-or-treating actually stemming from the Catholic Church. The Church encouraged the making of soul-cakes, which poor and hungry citizens took from families with the promise that they would pray for the family’s dead relatives. These poor citizens would go from family to family asking for the cakes, which became known as “going-a-souling,” the obvious inspiration for the modern-day tradition of trick-or-treating. As well, the modern-day practice of dressing up in scary costumes also has its roots in the past. As the winter months came in, a time of disease and death, a time when it was believed spirits came into the living world, people dressed up in costumes and masks as a way to trick and confuse the wandering ghosts away from them. 

    And although trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes are the most popular of the Halloween traditions, lesser-known practices from the past that have since died out are just as fun and interesting. For example, in 18th century Ireland, young women would hide a ring in the food, and whoever had the meal was thought to be their true love. Other young women would peel apples and toss the peel over the shoulder, believing that the shape of the peel was in their future husband’s initials. Another tradition, and inspiration for the modern-day apple bobbing, believed whoever could bob an apple first would be the first to walk down the aisle.

    Halloween, a scary and spooky holiday for so many, has its roots as far back as ancient times and has persisted in popularity to the modern-day, spreading across the world. Some traditions, like dressing up, bobbing for apples, and trick-or-treating have stayed more popular than others, like romantic matchmaking. Yet, all of these Halloween traditions, plus far more, though perhaps not being the most popular and well-known, are still celebrated by all kinds of people, and continue to make Halloween one of the most popular holidays in the world.

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