What people now know as Halloween comes from a long line of other fall and harvest festivals from various religions. The modern holiday of Halloween came out of the Gaelic holiday Samhain. Samhain means “summer’s end” and marks the end of the harvest season.
Beginning in the 16th century, people would go from house to house in “disguise” reciting rhymes and verses in exchange for food. Throughout time this became known as trick-or-treating in the U.S.
In the Christian church, Halloween began as a part of a collection of three days called Allhallowtide. This celebration was designed to honor the saints and pray for those who had recently passed.
In the seventh century All Hallows’ Day was officially moved to November 1, which is the same day as the Gaelic holiday Samhain. There is no true insight as to why the date was changed, but it had stayed the same for hundreds of years.
The celebration of All Hallows’ Eve made its way to North America in the late 18th century. Since its introduction the popularity of the holiday has grown increasingly into what it has become today.
There is a wide range of traditions and celebrations for Halloween across the world today. In Mexico, the celebration is called “Día de los Muertos,” or the Day of the Dead.
This celebration lasts for two days, as the spirits of those who have passed are believed to come down from the heavens to reunite with their families. Altars are made and decorated with fruits, candles, flowers, and special breads. For the children, there are toys and candies left as well.
On the last day of the celebration the people go to the cemeteries to clean the tombs, listen to music, and reminisce about their loved ones.
On the other side of the world, in France, the celebrations are a little different. The holiday is increasing in popularity, but most people still do not celebrate it.
“Halloween is mostly for kids,” said international student Léa Raynaud. “People do not decorate their houses.”
Raynaud said that some college groups would hold parties with a Halloween theme where people can dress up if they would like. There are also some parents that will take their children trick-or-treating, but not every one does. It is up to the parents.
“I did that as a child,” Raynaud said. “My parents let me dress up and took me around to get candy. Not everyone does it. It’s not very popular there.”
Children do, however, learn about the traditions and origins of Halloween typically from their teachers in elementary school.
The UWA campus is not one to shy from traditions. There were two Halloween themed parties held on campus by two of the fraternities, Delta Chi and Sigma Pi. Many students look forward to these events each year.
“I love the Halloween parties each year,” said sophomore Ski Mason. “Dressing up is always the best part, plus, I get to see what all my friends are going to be and just have fun for the night.”