The history of Halloween

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The history of Halloween

The history of Halloween is not well known and this story explains the backstory of this spooky holiday.

The history of Halloween is not well known and this story explains the backstory of this spooky holiday.

Image via torange.biz under the creative commons license

The history of Halloween is not well known and this story explains the backstory of this spooky holiday.

Image via torange.biz under the creative commons license

Image via torange.biz under the creative commons license

The history of Halloween is not well known and this story explains the backstory of this spooky holiday.

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Halloween is celebrated around the world on October 31st, but what do we really know about the history of Halloween?

The origins of Halloween date back over 2,000 years ago, with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-in). The Celts lived in what is now modern-day Ireland, United Kingdom, and Northern France.

They celebrated their new year on November 1st. This marked the end of summer and the beginning of a cold, ominous winter. They often associated this time of year with death, which is why Celts believed that the day before the new year was when the spirits of the living and the dead would become unclear. On the night of October 31st, Samhain was celebrated when spirits and souls of the dead returned to earth.

To recognize the celebration, Druids (Celtic priests) built these massive bonfires to sacrifice crops and animals to various Celtic gods and goddesses and to ward off ghosts and spirits. During the event, Celts also dressed up in different costumes, typically consisting of animal head and skins.

In 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had taken over the majority of the Celtic territory. Two Roman festivals were combined with Samhain during the 400 years that Romans ruled the Celtic lands.

The first festival incorporated in Samhain from the Romans was Feralia, the day they honored the passing of the dead.

The other festival was a celebration of Pomona, the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees. Pomona’s symbol was an apple, the incorporation into Samhain explains why people “bob” for apples on Halloween.

 

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