The history of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was a festival that took place between October 31st and November 1st. It marked the end of Summer and the harvest, and signified the beginning of the dark winter. The Celts believed that the barrier between the living and spiritual world would break down during Samhain. Because of this the celebrants would light bonfires and present the spirits with offerings and sacrifices. The Celts would also dress up using animal heads and carcusses, so that the spirits that crossed over into the living world would not be tempted to kidnap them.
By 43 A.D. the Roman Empire had taken control of the Celtic lands and they had soon assimilated their own celebrations with Samhain. One festival they incorporated into Samhain was the celebration of the Roman Goddess, Pomona, who was the goddess of fruit and trees and whose symbol was the apple. This may perhaps explain the tradition of apple bobbing on Halloween.
The tradition of Samhain had faded away as Roman Christianity’s influence began to strengthen. However, when in the 9th century Pope Gregory moved All Souls’ Day from May 13th to November 1st, it was seen as an attempt to replace the Celtic festival with a Catholic approved celebration. All Souls’ Day was celebrated in a similar way to Samhain and it became to be known as All-Hallows day, which is where Halloween takes its name from blending of ‘Hallow’ and ‘een’ which is a contraction of the ‘evening before’.
However our contemporary understanding of Halloween has been largely remoulded by the customs of modern America. The origins of Halloween in America can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century when Autumnal festivals began to become more commonplace and traditions such as the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making became common practice during such festivals.
In the late 19th century there was a push to make Halloween a holiday more about community get-togethers, as opposed to ghost stories and pranks, which in turn led to the emergence of parties and dressing up. During this time people were encouraged by the media to strip Halloween of any of its religious and superstitious overtones. By the turn of the 20th century the festival was seen as a secular event.
Halloween became to be known as a community orientated holiday in the 20th century, whereby parades and town-wide celebrations became more common practices. It was also during this period that customs such as trick or treating and apple bobbing became widely popularised again. Now Halloween is the second most commercial holiday in America, with American’s spending between $6-8 billion a year on Halloween related goods. It has also proved extremely profitable for the likes of the film industry, where film franchises such as ‘Halloween’ have collectively grossed over $640 million alone.
Now Halloween is celebrated in countries all over the world and its influence is continually expanding, as brands look to capitalise on one of the world’s oldest and most widely celebrated holidays. Swatch have recently released a Halloween inspired collection which is influenced by classic Halloween motifs such as clowns and skulls. The designs are presented on two Big Bold models that come alive in the dark, thanks to the Swatch Glow coating which enables both watch to awaken their spirit of evil!
Also, if you have any questions please click here