By Mel King
Today’s Halloween is completely different from when it was started over 20 centuries ago with the Celtic festival Samhain. In 2020, this frightening holiday is looking a little different from recent years due to COVID-19. Halloween is known for the witches, goblins and ghosts, but few people know the religious background.
Halloween and costumes we wear today originated with the Celtics who believed Oct. 31 to be when
the dead returned to Earth. To appease the dead, the Celtics wore costumes and masks. To celebrate the end of the harvest season and start of winter, they had a festival known as Samhain, which is the origins of Halloween.
The word Halloween derives from a Roman church holiday, All Hallows’ Day, more formally known as All Saints’ Day, which is to remember the dead. Romans celebrated with bonfires and parades while dressing up as devils, angels and saints. The celebration started the night before, which came to be known as All Hallows’ Eve. Eventually, the “All” was dropped and Hallows and Eve were mushed together into one word.
In the 1600s, the Puritans of New England were attempting to separate themselves from the Church of England. Since Halloween reminded them of England, the holiday was banned for at least the next 200 years. Catholics and Episcopalians were the main participants of the celebration.
Due to the Irish Potato Famine in Ireland during the 1800s, Irish and Scottish immigrants came to America. They brought their Halloween traditions along with them. One tradition they brought with them is the Jack-O-Lantern made out of a turnip. Later, people used pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns.
It was not until the 1900s that Halloween became the family-friendly, mainstream holiday we see today. In the 1930s, shops started selling costumes. The iconic cartoon “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” came out in 1966. In 1978, Michael Myers became an evil mascot for Halloween in the horror film franchise “Halloween.”
“Halloween as a child was very different,” said Daphne Livingston, an Altamonte Springs resident who now celebrates the holiday annually. “We really didn’t celebrate Halloween. My parents were very religious so this was a holiday that we were not allowed to celebrate.”
Even though she did not
her grandmother would make her favorite snacks: popcorn balls, peanut butter fudge, and candied and caramel apples.
When asked about Halloween with grandchildren, Livingston said, “Halloween with grandchildren is the best! We decorate, we dress up, we have a bunch of traditions but the best part is spending time together!”
When she had children of her own, Livingston said she and her family participated in Halloween activities but with more of a religious aspect. Now with grandchildren, her family goes all out for this holiday.
Due to COVID-19, Halloween in 2020 is looking a little different from recent years. Some people go all out for Halloween even with a pandemic.