When most people think of Halloween, they may think of what to wear, or how they’re going to carve their pumpkins. But, the roots of Halloween heritage run much deeper.
In its early years, Halloween stemmed from the Gaelic festival, Samhain, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year – the winter.
David Sheffler, Associate History professor at UNF notes, “There’s an Irish tradition, called Samhain, that’s associated with the harvest festival, that may be one of the origins of Halloween. In fact, a lot of the connections with things like spiritualism and concerns about the dead are often concerned about Samhain as a celebration.”
“I would probably make the argument that in several ways, certainly the way that Halloween is today, is directly related to Christianity,” Sheffler said.
As a means to protect their mortal selves from the spirits, people would wear scary masks and costumes to ward off evil spirits.
What started as a Celtic Harvest Festival, soon spiraled into a cultural phenomenon.
Today, Halloween is one of the most profitable holidays on the calendar.
Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of consumer spending in the United States. Between candy, costumes, and decorations retailers can expect to earn over 7 billion dollars in the United States alone.
Many events locally and nationally play upon peoples’ fascinations with delighting in fright.
Lucas Meers, the Director of PR at the Jacksonville Zoo, says, “We get our information just by paying attention throughout the year by kind of looking at different organizations, we’ll visit other zoos, other facilities, that have ‘Spooktacular’ type events, we’ll maybe steal some of their ideas, but we are inspired, we have a lot of parents that are on the staff, so they kind of bring to the table what excites their children, what sort of movies are out, that sort of thing, that’s how we get our inspiration on our different themed characters and our areas.
From the modest celebrator to the Halloween fanatic – Halloween is marked by history.
After thousands of years, Halloween has become the one day a year when people indulge in fright, sweet delights, and play pretend.