American culture has a reputation for reinventing holidays. As Halloween is quickly approaching, there is no denying that there are certain myths of this holiday that must be busted: the carving of jack o'lanterns, and the evolution of Halloween costumes are some of these myths.
Folklorists have detected Halloween to the origins of the Roman feast of Pomona. Pomona is the goddess of fruits and was celebrated around Nov. 1. The tradition started around 41 AD. Historian Nicolas Rogers mentions in his text called "Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night", Halloween has been linked to the Celtic Festival Samhain which is a festival honoring the end of summer. It was a period of supernatural identity. Not all writers agree on what went on during the feast of Samhain, but believe to be the origins of Halloween as it relates to the omens, and the links to the other world.
However, the Christian Evangelist at the time thought Halloween was evil and it was considered Satan's holiday. The question that must be answered is how did Halloween become an American holiday? Irish immigrants brought this holiday to America during the 1840's according to consumer researcher Russell Belk, who provides an answer to how Halloween came to America.The Great Potato Famine led many Irish to move to America and they brought their traditions with them. The holiday stuck around since and now that you know the history, here are some of the myths.
The first myth that will be explored revolves around the thought that Halloween was celebrated by carving turnips and not pumpkins. Folklore scholar Jack Santino mentions in his article called "Halloween in America: Contemporary Customs and Performances," the Irish carved the turnips and placed an ember in them to ward off evil spirits. The reason why people did this was because of stingy Jack. This tale is about how a man referred to as stingy Jack who would always play tricks on his friends and family. He even tricked the devil into climbing a tree and while the devil was climbing the tree, he put up crosses all over the tree and the devil could not touch them.
Afterward, the devil and stingy Jack struck a deal, and Stingy Jack said he will remove the crosses off the tree if the devil would not to take his soul when he died. The devil agreed and climbed down the tree once the crosses were taken off.
Once Jack died he tried to go to heaven, but they rejected him since he was cruel. Then, he went to Hell where he was rejected again because the devil kept his promise of not taking his soul. The devil then gave Jack an ember from the flames of hell in order for him to roam. Jack had a turnip, carved it out and roamed the earth without a resting place which gave him the term Jack O' lantern. Afterward, Irish immigrants came to America and people found out that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.Next, we have the evolution of costumes. During the celebration of Samhain, people disguised themselves in costumes in order to drive away evil spirits. Now, the holiday has evolved in America with costumes being geared to mass media and what is popular in culture, while the traditional costumes of a ghost and a witch no longer being advertised as much. According to University of Nottingham marketing professors Sally McKechnie and Caroline Tynan from the text "Halloween in a Material World: Trick or Treat, the cultural trend has been growing since the 1980s. Whether the costume is a superhero such as Batman or Spiderman, or Disney marketing a film such as "Frozen" by having a princess costume of Elsa reveals how there are a wide array of costumes available. All in all, as a member in society, in order to celebrate a holiday the correct way one must bust the myths that have evolved in society in order for the holiday's meaning to not be reinvented.