You like Halloween? You should; it's a fantastic holiday. Granted, it promotes childhood obesity, but vampires, werewolves, witchcraft and sticking your head in a trash can in pursuit of floating apples is the best! The Batesville Herald-Tribune helps us understand where all these whacky rituals came from.
Many rituals now commonplace during the Halloween season may have originated with the culture of the ancient Celts and their priests, the druids. Other civilizations adopted and changed the ancient rituals, such as bobbing for apples or donning disguises.
“Our Halloween celebrations are the remnants of the ancient pre-Christian Celtic celebrations,” said Fred Suppe, a Ball State history professor and an expert in Celtic folklore.
“The Celts can be traced back to 800 B.C. to what is now southern Germany and include the ancestors of the Scottish, Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Bretons. There are particular motifs of modern-day Halloween, such as the date and time it is celebrated, children trick-or-treating, the jack-o-lantern and bobbing for apples that are related to Celtic traditions.”
When Christianity was introduced to the Celtic people, church leaders tried to persuade the Celts to abandon their pagan celebrations and adopt the Christian calendar. Because these traditions were culturally ingrained, the church provided alternative holy days such as All Saints’ Day Nov. 1.
“The evening before All Saints’ Day became ‘Hallow’s Eve,’ with the word hallow meaning holy or saint and eve meaning the night before,” Suppe says. “Hallow’s Eve evolved to Halloween.”
Another origin for trick-or-treating comes from Scotland, where young men in their late teens donned disguises after the harvest.
“The Celts called them ‘guisers,’ which is where we get the word geezer,” he said, “The guisers would march around a house and demand hospitality, which evolved into small children asking for treats.”