The History of Halloween

Happy October, everybody! One of our favorite holidays is just around the corner. As such, I thought I would share with you the origins of Halloween, and why we celebrate it here in America today.

Halloween is actually a very old holiday. How old? Let’s go back a couple thousand years, to the time of the Celts. The Celts celebrated an ancient festival known as Samhain. Similar to today’s Halloween, during Samhain people lit bonfires and they wore costumes. But while we do it for fun, their holiday actually had a purpose. Samhain marked the transition from summer to winter, and it was believed that during this transition, the worlds of the living and the dead would become intertwined. To protect themselves, the Celts lit massive bonfires to burn some of their crops and animals as a sacrifice. In addition, they wore animal heads and skins to ward off the spirits of the dead. Sounds pretty spooky, right?

The Celts in Britain would eventually become conquered by the Romans, who would mix in their own traditions into Samhain. One of them was the celebration of the goddess Pomona, whose symbol is the apple. This may be we why we love apples during autumn and Halloween (apple bobbing, candy apples, etc.). When Christianity spread to Ireland, Pope Gregory III established All Saints Day on November 1, giving the holiday a new name, All Hallows Eve. 

 So, these are the origins of Halloween, but how did the holiday come to America? Some of the Celts of course became known as the Irish. Early in the United States’ history, there was heavy emigration from Ireland due to widespread famine. The Irish brought with them this old tradition of Samhain, and over the course of 200 years, it evolved into the Halloween that we celebrate today.

 On October 31, whether you’re trick or treating or handing out candy, you can impress others with your knowledge about the holiday and why we celebrate Halloween. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!
by: Weston Waite

Weston Waite