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The Story Behind Halloween

While there are many versions of the origins and old customs of Halloween, some remain consistent by all accounts. Halloween is one of the oldest holidays still celebrated today.

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Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhainm (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland,  the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st. This days marked the end of summer, the harvest and the beginning of the dark , cold winter, a time of the year that was often associated with human death.

Celtic believed that in the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31st they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghostss of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or priests,  to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, theses prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

 

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestants belief system there, Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the Southern colonies.

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However,  Halloween has been viewed mainly as an American holiday, nowadays, people in more and more countries have been adopting it. Halloween costumes, though, can be found in other parts of the globe.

 

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