What is Halloween?
Halloween is right around the corner, a time when costumes, jack-o’-lanterns, spooky music and trick-or-treating take center stage. If you want to get straight to the Halloween music then skip to the bottom to find out more. Otherwise read on…
This holiday has a fascinating history, influenced by various cultures. In this post, we’ll explore Halloween’s origins and traditions, and how it became the cherished holiday it is today. To begin with, let’s delve into the ancient Celtic roots of this holiday.
Celtic Roots: Samhain
Halloween’s story starts with the Celts, who lived in Ireland, the UK, and France. First, they celebrated Samhain, marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. During this time, it was believed that on Samhain, the line between the living and the dead blurred, allowing spirits to return. Consequently, to ward off these otherworldly visitors, the Celts lit bonfires and donned costumes, effectively laying the groundwork for Halloween.
Christian Influence: All Hallows’ Eve
In the 8th century, the Catholic Church established All Saints’ Day on November 1st. October 31st, the night before, became All Hallows’ Eve, evolving into Halloween. Some Samhain traditions merged with Christian practices, creating a blend of spirituality and superstition.
Immigrant Influence: A Cultural Blend
In the 19th century, Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their Halloween traditions to North America, merging with other cultural practices to shape today’s Halloween.
Trick-or-Treating: A Playful Tradition
Trick-or-treating likely has its roots in medieval Europe’s “souling” tradition, where the poor went door-to-door on All Saints’ Day. Furthermore, in the US, the custom of young people collecting treats likely evolved from various European practices, eventually becoming the beloved tradition we know today.
Jack-o’-Lanterns: A Glimpse into Irish Folklore
Jack-o’-lanterns have their origins in Irish folklore. Initially, they were carved from turnips. However, when Irish immigrants arrived in the US, they switched to pumpkins. These pumpkins symbolize the legend of “Stingy Jack.” He was a man who cleverly outsmarted the devil and as a result, was condemned to wander the Earth with only a lantern to light his way.
Costumes: Hiding from Roaming Spirits
The custom of wearing costumes on Halloween originates from the Celts, who used disguises to avoid spirits. Now, people of all ages enjoy a variety of costumes, adding creativity and fun to the holiday.
Haunted Houses and Decorations
No Halloween is complete without eerie decorations and haunted houses, which have become more elaborate and commercial over time, adding to the holiday’s excitement.
So if you’re having a party and are looking for spooky Halloween music to play then have a look at our suggestions below.
Funeral March of a Marionette by Gounod – this piece tells of a marionette which has died in a duel. The funeral procession begins followed by a gentler section where the mourners have refreshments. Then the procession begins again.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Bach – This is a very familiar piece that has been used in various films including Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Fantasia (1940), La Dolce Vita (1960), Rollerball (1975) and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).
Use your membership to download the sheet music from music-scores. If we don’t have a version for your instrument or ensemble then just contact us to request a transposition.
Halloween’s history is a fascinating journey from ancient Celtic and Christian traditions to a worldwide celebration filled with costumes, treats, and spooky decor. It’s a holiday that reflects diverse cultural influences, offering something for everyone to enjoy, whether you love scary stories, tasty treats, or simply dressing up.
You can read more about the history of Halloween and its traditions at History.com