Tag Archives: history

Origins of Halloween

By Alicia Cram

You can tell that Halloween is approaching as the days grow cool and the evenings grow eerie. Have you ever thought about asking, “Why do we celebrate Halloween?” as the eerie season draws near?

Regardless of Halloween’s past or roots, it is a holiday that is enjoyed by a wide range of people all over the world. All Hallows’ Eve was traditionally the time when the deceased were commemorated. It became cultural over time. Halloween has become incredibly marketed for Americans in the last couple of decades.

Several months before Halloween, we start to see decorations for the holiday in stores. Unfortunately, this commercialized festival now places much more of an emphasis on all things scary or nasty than on innocent costumes. Without question, modern Halloween customs have turned this commercial festival into something that discreetly emphasizes the hideous and diabolical.

Even though it might seem strange, the bible has a lot to do with Halloween. On All Saints’ Day, Christians would celebrate the saints and the metaphysical link between heaven and Earth. All Hallows’ Eve, the night before Halloween, served as its inspiration.

It was claimed that on All Hallows’ Eve, the veil between this world and the afterlife was particularly thin. Especially throughout the Middle Ages, harvest time meant earlier nights, colder weather, and a challenge in maintaining food. In October, spirits were supposed to freely roam because death was always only around the corner. This explains why Halloween has the eerie, haunting vibe we’ve come to enjoy.

Halloween got its start when the earliest settlers came to America. Many of the early English settlers carried numerous ghost and witchcraft beliefs with them. Many immigrants from Scotland and Ireland came to the United States in the 1800s and brought their Halloween customs with them. Other groups modified Halloween traditions to reflect their own cultural influences. African and Haitian immigrants contributed their voodoo beliefs about black cats, fire, and witchcraft, and German immigrants added a vibrant witchcraft mythology.

Why do we say trick or treat?

Trick or treating originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain, which was a celebration of the arrival of winter or the “dark half” of the year. The Irish would dress up and visit houses door to door singing songs to the dead on the nights before Samhain. In return, they got nuts, cash, or baked goods called soul cakes. The Christians then modified this custom and gave it the new name All Souls’ Day.

So now, as the spooky night draws near, you know about the old customs and traditions that have become part of our modern Halloween. Whatever traditions you like to celebrate probably have roots in other cultures from the past, but it’s also fun to make your own traditions.

March: This Month in History

By Edmund Shryock

There have been a great deal of historical events that have taken place within the month of March. All of us know about the events of last March (2020) which now overshadows previous historical events and achievements. Now let’s take a look back at five historical events that have taken place in the month of March.

  1. The Ratification of The Articles of Confederation:
  • On March 1st, 1781, The Articles of Confederation were ratified, creating the first taste of a Government in the United States after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Although the Articles remained as the governing body of the U.S. Government until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1789, there were major flaws within it. It created economic disorganization among the 13 States and there was no executive leader. This paved a way to a signing of the current U.S. Constitution that is the backbone of current American Politics. 
  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt was Inaugurated as the 32nd President of The United States:
  • On March 4th, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated and was faced with getting the United States out of the Great Depression. He was offering a New Deal to America and bringing a much needed breath of fresh air to this crisis. In his Inauguration Speech, he would go on to say the famous words, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” This would rally the American people and cause him to win 3 more elections.
  1. Ulysses S. Grant became commander of the Union army:
  • As the Civil War had been raging on for almost 3 years, the Union Army was in need of a new general. On March 9th, 1864, Ulysses Grant would be commissioned as the commander of the Union forces. Grant would go on to fight in numerous battles against the Confederate leader General Robert E. Lee. Eventually, Lee was defeated at the hands of General Grant’s army. This popularity of his successes in war helped him win the White House, becoming the 18th President of the United States. 
FILE – In this March 23, 2010, file photo, participants applaud in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, as President Barack Obama signs the health care bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
  1. Obamacare is passed through Congress being signed into law:
  • On March 23, 2010 in former President Barack Obama’s second year in office, he helped form a Universal Healthcare Reform Bill. This bill was going to allow healthcare to be offered to all Americans. However, this bill created enormous backlash from the Republican party believing it to be unconstitutional. This was the start of a majority of the division we see today in Washington. However, Obamacare was effective and popular among people who could not afford healthcare, helping Obama’s reelection in 2012.
  1. The United States buys Alaska.

The Russian Empire at the time was looking to sell its Alaska Territory as it was across the Pacific Ocean and hard to defend. Also, Alaska was very sparsely populated. America was willing to purchase Alaska, however the Civil War postponed the sale until after the war. President Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State William Seward set a deal to pay $7.2 million for Alaska, which was only about 2 cents per acre. So on March 30, 1867, Alaska was purchased by the U.S. However, Alaska would not be granted statehood until 1959, almost 92 years after the purchase.