Halloween history lesson

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Like clockwork, on Oct. 31 of every year, kids and adults of all ages dress up in creative and scary costumes, travel from house to house trick-or-treating and collect all the candy they can eat and then some. Ghosts, witches and ghouls roam the streets and dominate Halloween. This spooky holiday is all fun and games in this day and age by means of haunted houses, corn mazes, jack-o-lantern carving and apple bobbing. Zombies, goblins and vampires, oh my! What else can one find on this creepy night? Though the Halloween we celebrate is full of laughter and play, the holiday actually originates from an Irish folktale.

Halloween is derived from a Celtic festival called Samhain Feis, which is celebrated the end of the harvest season. The first jack-o-lanterns where made of turnips – now, they are made of pumpkins – and were placed outside houses to scare away Stingy Jack or any other spirits that may want to wander into homes late on Halloween night. Stingy Jack is an old folk tale about a man who repeatedly tricked the devil over and over, until the devil eventually promised to not bother Jack, if he died and the devil did not to take his soul. When he died, neither heaven nor hell would accept him, so he wanders around every Halloween looking for houses without jack-o-lanterns that he can invade. Another Halloween tradition passed down for generations is to tell scary ghost stories. Though we tell ghost stories with a laugh, the Irish during the Celtic period believed in the complete validity of the stories. Even some traditionalists still do. These stories strongly influence the culture of the past and present Irish population.

Halloween is a night full of exciting and frightening activities that could go on for days and days with events such as Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights and Six Flags’ Fright Fest. Trick-or-treating, dressing in costumes and making jack-o-lanterns are all easy and enjoyable things to do with friends and family that can make your spooky, modern Halloween unforgettable.

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