Column: The Possible Origin of Halloween

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

Column: The Possible Origin of Halloween

The only thing I knew about Halloween as a child in the 70s was I could dress up and gather candy from neighbours. My older siblings, children in the 50s and 60s, remember trick or treating, but they did not start as young as many do today. A friend of mine remembers going when she was five in 1953. Her mother didn’t trick or treat but recalls a Halloween party at school. My parents did not celebrate Halloween. They were children in the 20s and 30s.

The earliest record of trick or treating in Canada took place in Kingston, Ontario, in 1911. At that time, it was called “guising”. It was brought to Canada by the Scottish and Irish who dressed in disguises and went door-to-door begging for food or money. They paid for the treat by singing, dancing or performing a trick. Guising can be traced back to the 1500s.

Many contribute the origin of Halloween to the Celtic festival of Samhain that began more than 2,000 years ago. It marked the end of the harvest (summer) and the beginning of the darkness (winter). The Celts believed the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead disappeared, and souls could cross over.

Not all visiting souls were friendly. Some caused trouble, so people dressed as devils, witches and mischievous beings to ward off spirits.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

Links to learn more about this fascinating subject:

Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Robert Grant Haliburton

The Day of the Dead by Robert Grant Haliburton on Toronto Public Library (PDF)

Cosmic Lessons: The Day of the Dead by Randall Carlson on Sacred Geometry International

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