Hallowe’en of Yesteryear

Kayla Craig – Marketing and Communications Intern

The countdown to Hallowe’en is on. Pumpkins are being carved into jack-o’-lanterns, re-runs of old horror movies light up televisions screens, and bags of candy are disappearing from store shelves. On this occasion, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the history behind the annual event.

Hallowe’en was thought to originate over 2,000 years ago from the Celtic festival of Samhain. The festival took place on the night of October 31st and marked the end of the harvest year and beginning of winter. It was a night where the veil between this world and the next was thought to be thinner, allowing the souls of the dead to visit the living. To ward off harmful spirits, the Celts wore costumes and masks made out of pelts and animal heads, and lit sacrificial bonfires.

After the Roman empire conquered most of the Celtic territory in the 8th century, November 1st become all Saint’s Day. The night before it was known as All Hallows Eve, a combination of Samhain and other Roman festivals. This night would, eventually, be called Hallowe’en.

Closer to home, the Galt Archives contains photographs of Hallowe’en of yesteryear. A heart-warming image of children and a few nurses at the Lethbridge Municipal Hospital who participated for a few hours in a Hallowe’en party in the children’s ward in 1968. The children played games, particularly “pin the tail on the witch” and later were served pop and a piece of Mr. Muffet, the cake.

Join the Galt Museum & Archives on Saturday, October 29th the Galt Museum & Archives hosts the Hallowe’en Spooktacular. From 1–4:30 pm there will be ghost stories, games, and crafts galore, and free snacks. Decorate pumpkins, cookies, and take a haunted building tour at this all-ages family event. Admission is free.

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