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Its March Through the Centuries from Europe to the United States

Contributor: Jim Kearney

Halloween was originally called the festival of Samhain ("sow-in") an ancient Celtic festival. The Celts lived in a part of, then, Britain that is now Ireland. They believed it was a time when ghosts and spirits came out and the Celts would appease them by offering up gifts.

The ritual also included dressing up as saints, dancing, bonfires and feasts.

For more than 2000 years the original festival has been reinvented many times. One major rendition was its adoption by the Christian Church as the faith's growth moved throughout Europe.

Considered by many, at the time and by some to this day, as a pagan ritual it represented a road block to some on the pathway of adopting the Christian faith. But, "Samhain", "All Saints day", "All Hallows' Eve", "Halloween" and by many other names, was so embedded in many of the clannish cultures it managed to survive and became a part of many Christian countries of the world.

Scotland and Ireland immigrants brought the holiday to the United States during the early 1900's. It is celebrated every October 31st.

Halloween, today, is largely considered a time for children to dress up and have some scary fun; and for adults to dress up and act like children for one allowable day.

Many cities and organizations hold festivals during that time of the year that include Halloween themes.

Because of its original timing on the calendar it helps announce fall and adds to the colorful fall decorations with the addition of pumpkins, ghosts, mummies, witches, haunted houses, skeletons, cobwebs, bats, coffins, cemetery headstones, spiders and spider webs. The spooky list goes on.

Halloween is mostly considered a traditional secular holiday. It is not a federal holiday.

My Personal Recollections of Halloween:

As a child I, along with my neighborhood friends, could hardly wait until dark to run from house to house yelling, "Trick or Treat!". I don't think any one of us, in our predominantly Irish neighborhood, ever contemplated what we would do if someone ever said , "I choose trick".

The goal was always to get to as many houses as possible to increase the amount of treats we would collect.

Mom's paper grocery bag, decorated for the occasion, worked well and could handle anything thrown into it ...as long as it didn't get wet. Apples and other fruit, in general, presented the biggest danger. But the word would quickly get to us as to which house owners were not exhibiting, in our minds, the true spirit of Halloween treating.

Candy corn, anything milk chocolate, peanut butter cups, were my favorite. Popcorn balls and marshmallow treat - not so much.

Money, mostly nickels and dimes and a few quarters added up and represented a nice modest, child level, nest egg that was never reported to mom and dad or the IRS.

Looking back I'm sure the evening ended, about the same way in each household, with children bouncing off their bedroom walls, unable to sleep, after consuming too many sugar-laden treats.

Good Times!

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