Have you ever wondered how the tradition of costumes and trick-or-treating came to be such a tradition on October 31st? It evolved from an ancient Gaelic festival called Samhain which was celebrated on the last day of October. It is believed the Celts celebrated in costume, enjoyed special feasts, and made lanterns by hollowing out gourds. In Europe it became known as All Hallows’ Eve meaning “hallowed evening.” People dressed up as saints and went door to door.
All Hallows’ Eve (hallows = saints) was originally celebrated on May 13th. The name was eventually shortened to Halloween and it became a time for fun – apple bobbing, fortune-telling games, and mirror-gazing where people hoped to catch a vision of their future. There are also reports of fortune-cookie-like frs being given out. People wrote messages on pieces of paper in milk, folded the notes and placed them into walnut shells. The shells were then thrown in the fire and the heat caused the milk to turn brown enough for the messages to be read.
Wearing costumes also goes back to ancient times. People were said to dress up as saints and recite songs or verses from door to door. Children would go door to door asking for “soul cakes,” a treat similar to biscuits. These cakes originated as part of the All Souls’ Day holiday on November 2nd, but eventually became a part of Halloween night as trick-or-treating. In the mid-1900s, families would provide treats to children in hopes of not receiving a prank.
If you want to find out how we celebrate Halloween in Montana, check out the web site below. Here are a few suggestions:
Great Falls – Trail of Terror-Haunted Walk
Vaughn – Applestem Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch
Helena – Haunted House at Helena Civic Center
Missoula – The MissoulaMaze