Where Did Halloween Come From?

Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). According to History.com, the Celts lived in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France about 2,000 years ago. Samhain was considered the start of a new year.

Samhain marked the end of the summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter. Many people died during the winter, which caused people to associate winter with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. Samhaim was celebrated on October 31.

According to History.com, Celts thought the presence of spirits made it easier for Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. This involved huge sacred bonfires, where people burned crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. The Celts wore costumes of animal heads and skins and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

The Romans, after conquering the Celts, combined Samhain with Roman festivals. Feralia took place in late October when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead. Another festival honored Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. Bobbing for apples became part of the Roman festival celebrations.

Britannica stated that in the 7th CE, Pope Boniface IV established All Saints’ Day on May 13. A century later, the day was moved to November 1. According to Britannica, this may have been done in an effort to supplant the pagan holiday with a Christian observance.

Halloween was largely forbidden among the early American colonists. In the 1800s, they developed festivals that marked the harvest and incorporated elements of Halloween. In the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants who came to the United States brought their Halloween customs with them.

Today, Halloween is primarily celebrated by children who dress in costumes and go trick-or-treating. Some schools may hold Halloween parties, but not all do. The old ways of celebrating with religious-based festivals have been forgotten.

Related Articles on FamilyTree.com:

The History of the Jack-O-Lantern

The History of Trick-Or-Treating

The History Of All Hallows Eve

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.