Each year on October 31st, we re-enact ancient rituals, which form the basis of our contemporary festivals, as we parade the streets of our neighborhoods in Halloween costumes dressed as ghosts and goblins; re-enacting ancient folk customs that pay homage to departed ancestors and to souls of our deceased.
In America, Halloween has traditionally been associated with dressing up in costume and going trick-or-treating, however, the root of the Holiday lies in the rituals of autumn; in seasonal changes, and in remembering those who have passed on; expressed by the analogy between human death, and by the cold, dark, winter months of another dying year. And, while American children go trick-or-treating in costumes, and tell spooky ghost stories, and by carving jack-o-lanterns; other cultures experience festivals of the dead quite differently.
To trace how this holiday has evolved in America from the 19th century into the 21st century, take a historical look back at Halloween with the EDSITEment-reviewed website the American Memory Project, which has numerous original documents, including photographs of children and adults celebrating Halloween from the 1930s, to descriptions of Halloween festivities by Americans early in the 20th century, to late 19th-century magazine articles about the holiday.
For additional articles by Jean, SUBSCRIBE on the link at the top of the page, it’s free.