What a lot of people don’t realise is that Halloween was, originally, a Celtic festival. November the 1st marked the start of the winter to the Celts, and was the start of their year. In Welsh, the term for Halloween is “Nos Galan Gaeaf“, which literally means “the eve of the first day of Winter”, with “Calan Gaeaf” being the 1st November.
The modern day practice of “trick or treating” has its origins in old customs which existed in the Celtic parts of the British Isles as far back as the late 1800s. But the modern form is very much an American invention, where it apparently became popular in the 1950s.
In fact, when I moved to the USA in 1992 it was one of the major events of the “fall season“, along with Thanksgiving. When I had my own children (all of whom were born in the USA), I would take them “trick or treating“, typically on the Sunday before Halloween so that they could do it in daylight.
When I moved back to the Disunited Kingdom in 2001 trick or treating had infiltrated into Wales, whereas it did not really exist back in 1992 when I had left. Over the last 10 years the level of fuss made about Halloween has certainly increased, so that now it seems to me the level of costume wearing and trick or treating which goes on here is almost on a par as the US.
I find it quite amusing that what was originally a Celtic festival to mark the passing from the old year to the new one has been taken by the United States, repackaged and “sold back” to the countries from where it originated in a new, and possibly more popular, guise.
So is the way of the World…