Normally around this time of year, Americans would be gearing up for a night of chaperoning younger siblings around town, eating excessive amounts of chocolate and buying out the clearance candy from CVS on November 1st. I don’t really have to point out why things are a bit different this year.
The night of October 31, 2020 will be one filled with college students sitting pathetically in their rooms, accompanied only by a pile of empty candy wrappers and too much free time. As such, take a moment with me to remember better times: Look at how Halloween developed into the modern holiday we know and love, and catch a glimpse into what it may be like in years to come.
Between all of the holidays taking place around October 31 — El día de muertos, Halloween, All Souls Day — it can get confusing to trace down where one holiday ends and the other begins. Though all three of these holidays have interconnected roots, most scholars agree that Halloween’s past is connected to a combination of ancient Celtic and Christian traditions.
More than 2,000 years ago, when the Celts lived in modern day Ireland, the feast of Samhain (pronounced sow-win) marked the end of the harvest season as the community began preparations for the coming winter months. The symbolic “death” of a season and the reaping of crops prompted feasts and celebration, but also indicated that the space between the dead and the living was thinner than ever.