1. Truth or not.
As you explore the history of Halloween, you will encounter differing viewpoints on the traditions of this holiday. Just as the holiday celebrates the unknown, we may have to be satisfied that some of the truth of Halloween may not be revealed. Keep an open mind as you start your adventure.
2. Celts / Druids.
The Celts / Druids celebrated Samhain 2,000 years ago. Some sources point to using skulls in their ceremony as sacrifices to appease the gods. Others point out festivities including large fires and silly behavior. Some of their rituals have become traditional Halloween activities. Find out more about Samhain.
3. October 31.
When calendars were established, the Celtic new year started on November 1. The end of the year was celebrated with feasts and family. The end of the growing season was celebrated as food and other items were stored for the coming winter. The traditions we think of as “Thanksgiving” today are similar to the festivities they shared. Look at the two holidays and see what traditions have crossed between the two.
4. Celtic stories.
Many of our traditions came from Celtic oral stories. This includes witches, werewolves and vampires. Find traditional Celtic stories about Halloween. See if you can find links to modern day traditions.
5. Evolution of traditions.
Find out about the following traditions that were started long ago, including what they originally were. Add others if you don’t like the choices below.
- Bobbing for apples
- Trick-or-treat / soul cakes
- Black cats
6. The world of the dead.
It was believed that the space between the living and dead was the thinnest during Samhain. Communicating with the dead was part of the original ceremonies. Was fire used for protection or just part of the festivities? Were masks to hide from malevolent spirits or frivolity? Explore how communicating and interacting with the dead has evolved to current practices.
7. Medieval traditions.
Pope Gregory, in trying to convert the pagans to Christianity, officially made Samhain into All Saints Day. Some traditions they celebrated included:
- Cakes offered in exchange for prayers for the dead
8. Coming to America.
When the Puritans came to America, Halloween didn’t come with them. However, as immigrants came to the United States, so did the holiday and the traditions associated with it. “Play parties” where people would share stories of the dead, tell fortunes, dance and sing were the beginning of Halloween in the US. Find out more about what these entailed or plan a party yourself with a “play party” theme.
9. Growing up in America.
Halloween evolved into a children’s holiday in the 1950s with the baby boomers. It became a secular holiday from the time of the play parties until this time. Often, it was a community celebration. Explore how Halloween was celebrated before the 1950s.
10. A fun scary.
Celebrations for Halloween revolve around being scared, but not life threatening. There are no dark worship or religious rites. Younger kids are presented with a lighter Halloween with smiling jack-o-lanterns and grinning ghosts. Young adults are more fascinated with frightening witches and flaming skulls. Look at how Halloween is presented to different age groups.
11. Halloween commercialism.
Halloween has also become a huge commercial enterprise for many industries. Like many other holidays, making money from the holiday is a drive for retailers, confectioners, costumers and more. Be aware of how much commercialism is woven into the holiday.
12. Explore it further.
This badge program is just one in the Halloween set. Check out one or more of the following in the set:
- Halloween Costumes
- Halloween Crafts
- Halloween Decor
- Halloween Games
- Halloween Haunted
- Halloween Party
- Halloween Recipes
- Halloween Traditions
Sites to Explore
To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Halloween_AHE