How does your family celebrate New Year’s Eve?
For most families, there’s a small party, everybody makes plans for the new year, and everybody wishes everybody else a happy year ahead.
Does that sound familiar?
If it does, you shouldn’t be surprised that we still celebrate the end of October with a party, thoughts about the future, and treats.
The people who first started celebrating at this time of year started their new year on November 1 instead of January 1. That made October 31 their form of New Year’s Eve.
By the end of October, all the food they’d been growing through the summer was all harvested, packed up, and stored to help them get through the long winter ahead.
This was way before people could just run to the store for some groceries. They had to be ready to be stuck in their homes by the snow sometimes for weeks.
Now that all the work was done, it was time to celebrate the start of a new cycle, so the people would throw a party and thank God for giving them such a good year.
Because the winter was coming and the days were getting dark earlier, they dressed up in costumes to scare away any bad luck. They also tried to guess at what the next year would bring. It was a little bit like how we make plans for the next year by making new year’s resolutions.
Nobody wanted anyone else to have bad fortunes, so they wished each other well with small gifts, kind of like the treats you get during the fall festival.
It’s been a very long time since those first people celebrated their holiday at the end of October, but a lot of other holidays were layered on top of it by other groups of people.
The Romans added two holidays. One was to honor their loved ones who were gone. The other was to honor the harvest. We honor the harvest in October with our symbol of pumpkins. The Romans symbol for the holiday was an apple.
Then Pope Boniface IV made it a day to honor some of the Christian saints and Pope Gregory III came along later to make November 1 All Saints Day. They called the night before All-Hallows Eve, referring to the idea that the day was to honor all of the greatly honored saints. To hallow is to honor something as holy.
The holiday keeps growing and changing over the years, but one thing seems certain. It just wouldn’t feel quite like Fall without some form of fun-filled celebration that brings the community together.