Halloween is coming! We love this holiday. Just as much for the fun that the kids have dressing up, as for advent of the holiday season that it heralds. The hint of cooler temperatures, Thanksgiving and the joy of the holiday season all kick off with Halloween!
The history of Halloween can be traced back to 2,000 years ago when the Celts (in the UK, Ireland, and France) celebrated the eve of the “New Year” (November 1st). This celebration marked the end of the summer and harvest and the start of the journey into Winter. Called “Samhain” this celebration was focused on offering sacrifices to the deities in hopes of gaining prophesies about the long winter to come. The Celts believed that on this night ghosts returned to the earth and the lines between the living and the dead became blurred. Part of the celebration of Samhain involved dressing in costumes, usually animal furs, and telling one another’s fortune. The Celts believed wearing the costumes protected them from the spirits walking the earth.
As time marched on and the Roman celebrations became intertwined with the Celt celebrations, Harvest celebrations were included. All Saints Day was widely believed to be the church’s attempt to replace the festival of the dead and was also called All Hallows Day. Over time, Samhain was replaced with “All Hallows Eve” and eventually became known as Halloween.
Towards the second half of the 19th century with the rise of immigrants fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, Americans started dressing in costume and going house to house asking for money. In the late 1800s, a movement in America started that focused on turning Halloween into a holiday aimed to draw communities together. By the time the 1920s rolled around, Halloween had lost its religious undertones and became a secular holiday.
The tradition of trick-or-treating most likely stemmed from the All Soul’s Parades in the UK. Poor citizens would beg for food and be given “soul cakes” in return for a promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. This practice was referred to as “going-a-souling” and children eventually took up the practice. Over time the practice of wearing costumes was combined with the trick-or-treating.
While many of the traditions date back thousands of years, there are many that have been forgotten. While Halloween focuses on the dead, All Hallows Eve used to focus on fortunes and the future – harkening back to the rituals of asking the dead for prophesies of the winter to come. In 18th century Ireland, you would consider yourself lucky in love if you bit into a ring while eating a potato. In Scotland, eating a sugary dessert before bed would bring dreams of your future husband. Tossing an apple peal over your shoulder would reveal the initials of your future spouse. And in the UK, the first successful apple-bobber would be the next to marry.
While we don’t spend much time celebrating the superstitions of the past, we do all love to decorate our homes for Halloween! There’s nothing like placing freshly carved pumpkins on the porch and creating delightfully scary snacks and food before heading out for a night of pillowcases full of candy.
This year, we hope you all have a wonderful Halloween. While temperatures in Houston remain in the 80s in October, don’t get so caught up in this “fall” celebration and forget that we are sadly nowhere near winter temperatures. Mosquitoes hibernate when temperatures fall below 55 degrees and remain there for a week (something that has not occurred in our neck of the woods since we have been in business!). So if you are planning on having a Halloween party in your backyard, give us a call first! Mosquitoes are the one blood sucker you don’t want at your Halloween party.