History of Halloween

Anthony Wheeler, Writer

2000 years ago that we know to be Ireland, Northern France, and the United Kingdom, the Festival of Samhain is being held for the first time ever. The festival was to mark the end of warm summer and the beginning of the cold winter. The Celts believed that on this night the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred and the ghosts of the dead returned.

Along with damaged crops and various trouble, the Celts believed that the presence of the spirits the Druids (Celtic priests) would have stronger prophesies about the upcoming winter. These prophecies were great comfort for the long and dark winter.

The Celts celebrated the event by building huge bonfires where they would burn crops,and animals as a sacrifice to the celtic deities. During the celebration the Celts would wear costumes made of animal heads and skin and tried to tell each other’s fortunes. Once the celebration was over they would relight their hearth fires they had extinguished earlier that day using the flame from the bonfire to help protect them from the cold winter to come.

In 43 A.D the Roman Empire conquered a majority of the Celtic territory in the four hundred years they ruled two Roman holidays were combined with the celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October were the Romans commemorated the people who died in the past year. The second was to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Pomona’s symbol was the apple, this most likely is why bobbing for apples practiced in present time.

By the ninth century Christianity spread into Celtic lands. Christian traditions started to replace Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D the church made November 2nd “All Souls Day,” a day to honor the dead. It is now believed this was an attempt by the church to replace Samhain. All souls day was celebrated like Samhain with bonfires, parades, and dressing up like angels, demons, and saints and the night before it the traditional celebration of Samhain was held. The holiday was later called “All Hallows Eve” and then later Halloween.  


Ancillary information found on History.com website