31st October Halloween is the spookiest night of the year.
31st October is also a boon to the retail industry. In the US, spending on costumes and candy may reach a record high this year, Business Insider reported.
And the Halloween fever isn’t contained to the States, either. In fact, people around the world celebrate the holiday in many different ways.
But where did all these strange practices come from? Turns out, a lot of these customs date back centuries. The holiday has changed over time, transforming from an ancient tradition to the flashy fright-fest we know and love today.
Let’s take a look at the origins of some of our favorite Halloween traditions:
Scottish poet Robert Burns helped to popularize the word “Halloween” with his 1785 poem of the same name.
So where does the name itself come from? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it’s actually two words smushed together. “Hallow” — or holy person — refers to the saints celebrated on All Saints’ Day, which is November 1. The “een” part of the word is a contraction of “eve” — or evening before.
So basically, Halloween just an old-fashioned way of saying the night before All Saints’ Day — also called Hallowmas or All Hallows’ Day.
This comes from the fact November 1 is All Saints’ Day, a Christian feast dedicated to celebrating the faithful departed, including all the saints. In Christian tradition, people start celebrating major feasts the night before they take place — take Christmas Eve, for instance.
The day’s morbid traditions go back to ancient times
Historians have linked Halloween 31st October to Samhain, the Celtic festival of the summer’s end celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.
According to Celtic mythology, the veil between the Otherworld and our world thins during Samhain, making it easier for spirits and the souls of the dead to return.
People would make offerings of food in order to get on the good side of these spirits and departed ancestors, according to the Mirror.
Pope Gregory IV switched it to the current date in 837, according to Britannica. His reasons were unclear, although influence from Celtic factions of the church and the fact that it makes sense to commemorate death during the fall are possibilities.