Halloween may date back almost 2000 years, but as holidays go it certainly has aged well. Indeed, one might say Halloween is looking better than ever.
The proof is all over social media. And the optical community – judging by the numerous posts we spotted on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – appeared to have an outrageously good time celebrating Halloween this year. Costumes, cookies and comic images were ubiquitous on social media for many eyecare practices and their staffs, from New York to Los Angeles and just about everywhere in between.
For example, the team at Spectacles West went the “witch” route for the day’s attire, and asked on Twitter: “Optiwitches? Witchticians? Happy Halloween!”
At Optomeyes Life of Salem, Mass., a pair of frames with a spider-web feel looked great on Instagram when matched with purple lenses and green hair, “for extra witchy vibes, of course.”
Or for a simpler, but scarier, look, the team at Opticianista LA found the perfect topping for a latte with the image of a ghost outlined in the crème. (We’ve included a number of other posts from the industry here, but there were way too many to highlight them all.)The history of Halloween, though, is far from simple. The tradition began with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, according to the History channel, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on Nov. 1.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of Oct. 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.
The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.
Nothing is certain, but it seems quite unlikely Pope Gregory III could have imagined what the holiday has turned into today.