Jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses, vampires, witches, ghosts, candy and kids trick-or-treating... Halloween has grown into one of the biggest commercial holidays in the US since the first official citywide celebration in Anoka, Minn., in 1921. But, Halloween has been around for over 2,000 years and its customs and rituals have changed dramatically over time. Here we'll look at a bit of the history of this holiday and get some color inspiration from the day's iconic colors.
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.
Source - History Channel
Probably the most well known symbol of Halloween is the carved pumpkin, or jack-o-lantern. The tradition of carving a lantern comes from the Irish who used potatoes and turnips, but was modified to use the pumpkin in the US where it was available.
There are a few colors that are strongly associated with Halloween. Orange and black being the two main colors of the holiday. Although these colors have been mass-marketed in recent years, they are thought to go all the way back to the celtic celebrations and be reminders of the candles and fires that were lit to welcome the cold black winter ahead.
In our modern traditions a few colors have also worked their way in... Green, Red, white and Purple. Green skinned monsters lurking in shadoes. White ghosts floating around. Red blood dripping from a vampires lips. Purple ribbons on the hats of witches.
The imagery for Halloween usually involve death, magic and monsters. Common Halloween characters include, ghosts, ghouls, witches, vampires, bats, crows, haunted houses, black cats, spiders, goblins, zombies, mummies, skeletons, werewolves and demons.