Pumpkins, costumes, and spooky ghosts – what’s it all about, anyway? At SHADEDmalibu, we were a little curious about the meaning behind some of our favorite fall holidays and figured you might be a little interested, too. Here’s what we’ve learned about the history of Halloween, All Saint’s Day, and Día de los Muertos.
History of Halloween
If you’re American, you probably go a little bit mad for Halloween. Costume parties, carving pumpkins, and covering the house in spooky spider webs and skeletons — but you might be surprised to know Halloween originated in Ireland and Scotland. It dates back thousands of years to the Celtic Festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in). Every year on October31, Celts would light bonfires to scare away evil spirits and ghosts. Many Celts dressed in costumes and masks in order to not be recognized by the ghosts who were present, as it was believed that on this night the ghosts of the dead came back to Earth.
Then, in the second half of the 19th century, there was a boost in immigration to the US with a lot of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. The result of more Celts in the US helped popularize Halloween. Over time, with influence from European traditions, people began dressing in costumes and going house to house asking for candy. Hello, trick-or-treating!
The Meaning of All Saint’s Day
The day after Halloween, November 1,Christians celebrate All Saint’s Day. Also known as All Hallows’ Day, this fall holidayhonors all saints, known and unknown, and it’s observed as a public holiday throughout much of the world. In addition to honouring Saints, the day celebrates all who have entered Heaven.
The holiday often involves readings of the Beatitudes, which are the eight blessings recounted in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Some others might visit the burials of their loved ones, leaving offerings such as flowers. Many may pray for dead or attend a service. This reflects closely on Mexican culture’s Día de los Muertos.
All Saint’s Day also involves eating tasty soul cakes. With a variety of recipes from pies, butter cakes, and shortbread, the treats were adopted into the Christian church during the 18th century.
The Meaning Behind Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico
We’ve talked about Día de los Muertos in our article about our favorite fall festivals around the world. Beginning on the 1st of November, Día de los Muertos is an interesting holiday originating in Mexico over 3,000 years ago. The holiday involves locals coming together to celebrate the dead, an it´s quite a special celebration in Mexican culture. During this time, it is believed that the veil between this world and the next is especially thin, so spirits are able to come visit their friends and family on Earth. Families help ensure a safe journey by creating beautiful ofrendas or altars in English.
Interestingly, back then Aztecs and other Nahua people living in Mexico saw death differently than we do today. They believed people’s souls travelled to , the Land of the Dead, when they died. Only after getting through nine challenging levels of the afterlife would the person’s soul finally reach Mictlán, the highest and final resting place.
Fun facts, right!? Which of these three fall holidays is your favorite?
Christa Adams is a writer, photographer, and sustainable traveler based in Barcelona. She’s been traveling solo since 2014 has a passion for the outdoors, coffee culture, and exploring quaint European towns. Follow her adventures at www.thespiritedexplorer.com.