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Why it's Called Halloween

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Happy Halloween, Everybody!

The time has come once again to parade ourselves in costumes to pretend we are who we are not. It’s Halloween. From Trick-or-Treating to haunted houses, you can’t go wrong with this holiday! But where does its name come from? Sort of spooky sounding and unique, you might wonder what it means and why we’ve called it by this name for the last 2000 years. 

The celebration of Halloween is even older than its name. It was initially a Celtic celebration called Samhain (pronounced sow-ain) that began on October 31 and lasted until November first—a bit like the modern day New Year’s Eve celebration. In fact that’s exactly what it was for the Celts—it marked the end of the summer season and the beginning of winter, so they made it their New Year’s celebration.

Pagan traditions saw people lighting bonfires and donning costumes in the hopes of warding off ghosts. But as Christianity spread across the world these Pagan traditions were still incorporated in a new holiday announced by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century: All Saint’s Day, November 1st—a day to honor all the saints in heaven.

‘Hallow’, being another word for ‘holy’ or ‘saintly’ was commonly used back then. So another way of saying ‘All Saint’s Day’ was ‘All Hallows’ Day’. This designates the night before November 1st, All Hallows’ Eve which means ‘hallowed evening’. You’ll still see Halloween spelled with an apostrophe in it from time to time (Hallowe’en) which was to show the joining of two words: ‘Hallow’ and ‘Even’ (short for evening).

Thanks for joining us on this hallowed night full of excitement and fun fright. From everybody here at Everything Summer Camp, Happy Halloween! And, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John

Posted in Random Thoughts

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