The History of Halloween
Beginning in Celtic Root
The origin of Halloween dates back 2,000 years. The holiday can trace its roots to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, pronounced "sow-in" and means "summer's end."
October 31st is celebrated around the world today with parties, trick-or-treat and other festivities. The original celebration began several thousand years ago in area that is from around the United Kingdom, Ireland and the northern France.
Back then, the New Year was celebrated on November 1. The day marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the long, cold winter. The winter season was associated with human death, and the Celtic belief was that on the night before the New Year, the worlds between the living and dead became blurred.
They believed that during Samhain, ghosts of the dead returned to earth and caused trouble. Huge sacred bonfires would be built on the night of October 31 by the Druids and people would gather to burn their crops and sacrifice animals in hopes of comfort and safety.
Costumes were worn by the druids during the celebration. Eventually Samhain became combined with the Roman festival of Feralia and Pomona. Feralia was a day in October when Rome remembered their dead. The goddess Pomona was the symbol of the apple and historians think that our modern apple bobbing tradition came from the original Roman festival honoring Pomon.
As Christianity spread to the Celtics, Pope Boniface IV proclaimed November 1 All Saints’ Day as a time to honor saints and martyrs. Many believe he was trying to replace the Celtic Samhain with a similar but church-related holiday. The original celebration was called “All Hallows” All-Hallowmas,” from “Alholowmesse” which meant " All Saints’ Day". Samhain became known as the night before All-Hallows, so it was called All-Hallows Eve and eventually became known as Halloween.
Later, the church designated November 2 as a third celebration, All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. The three days combined became known as Hallowmas.
Halloween was introduced to North America in the 1800s by European immigrants. Their traditions of dressing in costume and “trick or treat” evolved into the holiday that we celebrate today. The modern costumes, black cats, Halloween masks, parties, trick-or-treat, candy, bobbing for apples,bonfires and community celebrations all have their roots in the Celtic New Year’s Eve that marked the changing of seasons and protection from their fear of the spirits crossing between the worlds of the living and dead.