What are the origins of celebrating Halloween?

8 Jan 2019

After celebrating a Holiday for so long, you’d think it would be more enforced to learn the history behind the holiday. But, besides the bits and pieces you may learn, you never really see a full description of Halloween’s history. 

 The origins of Halloween go back way further than you may think. The very first versions of Halloween began with the Celts.  The Celtic religion was run by these forest-wizards called “Druids” who came to Ireland in 270 b. c. One of their holidays is Samhain. Samhain is an ancient ancestor of Halloween as we know it today. It was said that the “evil powers” came out during Samhain and that during other holidays and seasons they were locked up in the cave of “Cruachan in Connaught” and the cave was only unlocked on November Eve, and the spirits and copper bird were released, they killed farm animals, stole babies and replaced them with evil changeling children, but the holiday also celebrated the sun’s cycle, how the sun is bright in summer and hides in winter. It is said that on Samhain the sun goes to rest for winter. The people of Ireland had some very interesting traditions for Halloween. They did a ceremony where they would tell each other’s future, then after the fortune-telling, they would all do a dancing ceremony. They did have a lot of other fun“Halloween activities” but there are too many for me to list them all here.


 After their practice was forbidden, the Druids fled to the islands of Mona. After Christianity took over Ireland, they took the Celtic holidays and traditions and morphed them into their own holidays. They took some traditions from Samhain and put them into a holiday called All Saints Day or All Souls day. As for traditions, All Souls and All Saints day were also celebrating the souls of others; but these holidays lacked the “sun cycle” element from Samhain. But in England people also celebrated Sauin (Samhain). In Scotland, the servant’s year ends with October. So,  New Year tests for finding out the future were tried on Sauin. On All Hallows Eve, they had other festivities. Candles, relics of the sacred fire, played an important part. In England, one of the many traditions involved lit candles and apples fastened on a stick. The stick would be spun around while people would take turns trying to bite the apple. 


In Colonial days Halloween wasn’t celebrated much in America. But things changed gradually as time went on and Halloween became a more celebrated holiday.


In Europe, the original Halloween customs were being forgotten, but in America, they were being fostered and slightly changed. There are a lot of traditions from colonial America that are still celebrated today. One of these customs are “Halloween Parties” they are very much alive and well in modern day America and they were very popular in the earlier-days of Halloween in America. They were prepared in secret, people would not talk about whether or not they were invited, and people would come masked as ghosts or witches. As for decorations they had things like a  hollowed out pumpkin filled with assorted apples and nuts, the room was lighted with hollowed pumpkins that had candles inside -a lot like the Jack-o-Lanterns we see nowadays-. Superstitions on Halloween can range from being about anything from cats to witches and everything in between, things like “if a cat rubs you the wrong way (literally) it is bad luck”, or “you must keep the metal in your house because it wards off witches.”  But you must keep in mind that all Halloween customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries; all superstitions, all traditions, all activities. 

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