This month the Prairie State College Library is celebrating Halloween by highlighting some of the interesting fiction and non-fiction books that are available for students to check out. But do you know about the history and significance behind Halloween?
HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE
Did you know that immigrants from Ireland and Scotland introduced Halloween to the US in the early 1800s? (CNN).
Halloween, along with many of the traditions we know today, can be traced back almost 2,000 years to ancient Celtic traditions and the pagan festival known as “Samhain,” a time when it was believed that the “ghosts of the dead” were beginning their spiritual journey “into the otherworld” (Santino, 2009). During this time, it was custom for people to sacrifice food and other items, as well as honor those that have passed away by lighting fires (Santino, 2009). As time passed, many attempts were made by missionaries among others to change or eradicate these pagan traditions (Santino, 2009). However, these customs continued to live on in other holidays, such as the “All Saints Day,” with many of these beliefs and customs eventually coming to be represented in different cultures, such as in England where “cakes were made for the wandering souls” (Santino, 2009). In addition, things such as wearing costumes and treats became popular, traditions stemming from the ancient belief of “souls of the dead,” as well as other entities traveling around (witches, fairies, etc.), and food being offered as a way to honor them (Santino, 2009). Eventually, many of these traditions were introduced into the United States by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland, as well as Africa (Santino, 2009). Today, Halloween is a very popular holiday, with U.S. consumers spending billions of dollars each year and almost half of the population wearing costumes or decorating their home (CNN).
Want to learn more about the history of Halloween, read some scary books with Haunted Houses, or even books with Zombies? Check out the “Halloween Display” near the Library Classroom to find the books listed below, as well as other interesting books!
“Halloween Fast Facts.” CNN. Cable News Network, 15 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/13/us/halloween-fast-facts/>.
Santino, Jack. “Halloween: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows.” The American Folklife Center. Library of Congress, 2009. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. <http://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html>.