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Halloween traditions have changed over time

Jack-o%27-lanterns+are+a+modern+Halloween+tradition.+
Jack-o'-lanterns are a modern Halloween tradition.

Jack-o'-lanterns are a modern Halloween tradition.

IMAGE / flickr

IMAGE / flickr

Jack-o'-lanterns are a modern Halloween tradition.

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Halloween is a holiday celebrated all throughout America. People dress up, go to parties, and go door to door to get free candy.

But have you ever thought of why people do these things?

Many people believe Halloween was just a holiday made up by candy companies. Though that may be the case now, that’s not how Halloween came to be.

According to the History Channel, Halloween started with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

The Celtics’ new year began on Nov. 1.

They believed that on the day before the new year, the veil between the worlds of the living and dead were blurred and ghosts would return to the world of the living. They believed that the presence of ghosts damaged their crops, so they would light bonfires and wear costumes, mainly animal skins and heads, to ward off the ghosts.

When the Celtic land was conquered by the Roman Empire, they combined their festivals with the ideas of Samhain.

As the years went by, more and more of the Celtic traditions became incorporated in different types of celebrations.

When Halloween came to America, it had changed once again because of the mix of beliefs of Native Americans and European Americans. The first celebration of Halloween in America included “play parties,” which included sharing of stories of the dead, telling each others fortunes, and dancing and singing.

As Halloween came to America, the superstitions followed.

The idea of black cats bringing bad luck came from the Middle Ages and many people believed that witches would turn themselves into black cats to avoid being seen at night.

According to Bustle, black cats are also seen as a witch’s “familiar,” or animals given to witches by Satan. Bats and spiders are also seen as familiars.

It was believed that seeing a bat on Halloween foretold an untimely death, and if it flew in your house it was believed that a ghost was present.

Spiders, on the other hand, have a more happy belief attached to them. It is believed that when you see a spider on Halloween it means the spirit of a loved one is watching over you.

So how did things like carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating come into play?

The tradition of carving pumpkins derived from Celtic folklore. In the legend, a drunken man named Jack decided to trick the devil and that led to him being banned from heaven and hell. Jack carved a lantern out of a turnip to light his way in limbo.

The Irish, and now Americans, carve pumpkins to light a pathway to spirits’ homes.

According to the History Channel, Celtics would dress up in animal skins to disguise themselves from evil spirits and leave food out on tables to appease the unwelcome spirits.

In the Middle Ages, people began to dress up as ghosts, demons, and other creatures and performed antics in exchange for food and drink.

As time went on, the tradition changed.

Today, children and teenagers around the country dress up as mermaids, gangsters, and many other things to go trick-or-treating from door to door collecting candy to trade with siblings and friends at the end of the night.

The featured image in this story is from flickr.

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The student news site of Kearsley High School in Flint, Michigan
Halloween traditions have changed over time