A brief history of Halloween

By Erin Rebar, A&E and Features Editor

The spookiest time of year is just around the corner, and with it comes a host of fun activities for every age.

Halloween, also known as All Hallows Eve, originated as a pre-Christian Celtic festival for the dead.

“The festival observed at this time was called Samhain,” according to the Library of Congress website. “It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld.”

Around 600 A.D., Samhain began its transformation to the Halloween that we know and love today.

The process began when Pope Gregory the First started instructing his missionaries to use pagan holidays as a method of conversion by placing Christian holy days on or around the holidays the pagan people were already used to celebrating.

All Saints Day, a catholic feast day also known as All Hallows, which celebrates the dead who have made their way to heaven, was placed on November 1, the day directly after Samhain. Thus Halloween became a celebration on the eve of All Hallows — All Hallows Eve.

“Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic day of the dead,” according to the Library of Congress. “The wearing of costumes, for instance, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved.”

On campus, students use Halloween as a time to enjoy all sorts of activities.

“I don’t think I’m doing anything on Halloween because it’s a Monday,” said EWU senior Katie Stewart. “But one of my really good friends throws a costume party every year. So this upcoming weekend I’m going to a costume party.”

This year, Stewart is planning on dressing as a jungle warrior princess. To students who have yet to come up with a costume and are looking for a budget friendly option, she recommends sticking to the basics.

“Last year I literally just wore red and bought [some] two dollar devil horns,” said Stewart. “Something like that, where you only have to buy like one accessory is simple.”

Other students, including freshman Jessica Arellano, are planning on going to Scarywood for the holiday.

Kaili Keefe, an EWU freshman who is hoping to major in communications, will be taking a trip out of town to Washington State University (WSU) with some of her friends.

Not all students are planning on participating in the festivities, however.

“I am going hunting, actually,” Travis Mackay, a fourth year mechanical engineering major, said.

Mackay will be going sans costume this year, but he still had advice to give to students still searching for the perfect look.

“I’d throw a hockey jersey on, tape my knuckles up, and call myself a hockey player,” Mackay said.