By Inger Furholt
Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, is celebrated annually on the night of Oct. 31. Though it originated in Ireland, Halloween is now celebrated in quite a few countries. It is celebrated in different ways, with different activities like, bonfires, costume parties, “haunted house” tours, pumpkin carving, scary movie watching, and many other activities depending on the culture.
Many view Halloween as another fun holiday, an excuse to dress up and go trick-or-treating or to a costume party. However, not everyone celebrates Halloween or even believes that it is just innocent fun.
Halloween has undergone many changes over the years. Originally known as Samhain, the holiday was the mark of the end of the summer for the old Celtic people in Ireland. They believed that this was a time when hostile supernatural forces were active and ghosts and spirits could wander as they wished. Therefore, the Celtic had their own ways and traditions that eventually underwent changes.
Christianity spread throughout Europe and instead of abolishing the tradition of Samhain, it was instead introduced to new ideas that reflected Christianity. Since then, Halloween has become a confusing mixture from Pagan cultures and Christian traditions.
Halloween came to America in the late 1800’s and witches, black cats, pumpkins, candles, masks, parties and pranks started to appear with the Irish immigrants who came to settle. With immigration, the old traditions of Samhain spread to this foreign shore as well, and slowly turned into what we now know as Halloween.
Pumpkins with cut out faces did originally represent demons and were meant to frighten away evil spirits. Black cats were believed to be reincarnated spirits. People also used to believe that witches could turn themselves into black cats, so when black cats were seen they were believed to be witches. Witches and witchcraft are several things that have been considered a big part of Halloween.
People have different views as to what Halloween is, and most have their own way of looking at the holiday. To many people these days, Halloween is just another holiday that gives us an excuse to dress up, go trick or treating, eat candy, go to costume parties and do something different than what a person usually does on a normal day.
However, looking into the history of Halloween and its origins, it can be understandable why some do not want to partake in Halloween festivities. Many parents do not let their children go trick-or-treating or participate in classroom Halloween parties for religious reasons.
Even though the traditions have changed over time, and countries, cultures have different views as to what Halloween really is, it all originated from one Pagan holiday.
While it is really a celebration of the change of seasons, the idea of supernatural or even evil forces makes some people queasy. This origin can definitely clash with ideas and religions of many kinds, but what it has turned into now seems more fun and “innocent” than its first purpose.
Inger Marie Furholt is a senior majoring in journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.