Halloween is anticipated to be big this year. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2012 Halloween consumer spending survey, almost $8 billion will be spent in preparation and execution of the holiday. The holiday (like most) has seemed to lose its original value in the pursuit of commercialism.
Here are a few facts about Halloween that may or may not get the spirit back to its original luster:
Halloween was originally named Samhain. Pronounced “Sah-ween,” this holiday originated as a Celtic traditional holiday in which the dead made their journey to the otherworld, and the mythical beasts of the time would reveal themselves. The Celts would offer animals, fruits and vegetables in sacrifice and would set up bonfires to guide and ward away the dead.
Samhain took a turn when Christian missionaries tried to change the holiday into something more holy. They set up All Souls Day and All Hallows to carry out similar holy practices to distract from the Celtic holiday. It was a transition that was expected to make the Celtic people turn to the Christian belief. The church’s interference created All Hallows Eve, which was the same holiday, but the dead were now thought to be evil. All Hallows Eve came to be known as Hallows Evening, or Hallowe’en.
Almost all traditions can be traced from this history. Trick-or-treating is one of them. Per the National Retail Federation’s survey, the average person will spend around $28.65 on his or her costume, taking ideas from stores, the Internet or even Facebook. Adults and children will be buying a Halloween costume to prance about in. However, the origin of costumes, and even trick-or-treating, might surprise you.
During Halloween, people would leave out offerings to appease the spirits and demons. Soon, people would dress as the frightening creatures and put on mischievous productions in order to obtain the offerings. This act was called mumming, and it transformed into what we know as trick-or-treating.
Despite the hefty commercialism that has consumed Halloween, its deepest traditions still live on in forgotten guises, just as they did in the 9th century in the Catholic Church. You may be inspired by the Celts as you choose your costume this Halloween.
Kara Dalrymple, a senior at Piedmont High School, is a member of The Anniston Star’s high school advisory panel.