Ready to learn more about the mysteries and histories of Halloween?
Halloween has a rich and diverse history that has evolved over the centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated around 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and parts of France.
Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was believed that on the night of October 31st, the boundary between the living and the dead grew thin, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to roam freely on Earth. To ward off these spirits and protect themselves, people would light bonfires and wear costumes made of animal skins and heads. They also left offerings of food and drink outside their homes to appease these wandering spirits.
When Christianity spread into Celtic lands, November 1st was designated as All Saints’ Day, a day to honor saints and martyrs. The night before, October 31st, became known as All Hallows’ Eve, eventually shortened to Halloween. Over time, elements of Samhain and Christian traditions merged, giving rise to the modern celebration of Halloween.
In the United States, Halloween took on a new form with the influence of various immigrant traditions. It became a community-centered holiday with elements such as trick-or-treating, where children go door-to-door collecting candy and treats, and the widespread use of costumes, which range from spooky to whimsical.
Today, Halloween is celebrated not only in the United States but also in many parts of the world. It has become a time for parties, haunted houses, pumpkin carvings, and elaborate decorations. The holiday has also expanded beyond its Celtic and Christian roots to include a wide range of cultural and commercial influences, making it a truly global and diverse celebration.
Thomas, H. (2021, October 26). The origins of Halloween traditions: Headlines and heroes. The Library of Congress. https://blogs.loc.gov/headlinesandheroes/2021/10/the-origins-of-halloween-traditions/#:~:text=Yet%2C%20the%20Halloween%20holiday%20has,costumes%20to%20ward%20off%20ghosts.