Have you ever wondered where strange Halloween traditions like costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin-carving and apple-bobbing actually began? This fun-filled festival actually has deep history that dates back to Celtic times, and you’ll be surprised to know how it came to be. Here’s a throwback to 2000 years ago.
It might not have started out that way, but Halloween has managed to make its way into cultures across the globe. The yearly celebration of everything that’s imaginative, spooky and even bizarre is believed to have its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts lived 2000 years ago in the area that’s now Ireland, UK and northern France, and they celebrated their New Year on November 1. This day marked the end of fall and the beginning of winter, and also the blurring of the boundary between the worlds of the living and dead.
(Image via: celticanamcara.blogspot.com)
On the night of October 31, druids (Celtic priests) built massive sacred bonfires, and people gathered to burn crops and sacrifice animals. The people believed the fires and the presence of spirits made it easier to tell the future, so that they would not blindly journey into the cold, dark winter. Interestingly, the Celts wore costumes on this day too, typically made of animal heads and skins, which were meant to ward off spirits.
When the influence of Christianity spread to Celtic lands, it gradually blended with, and supplanted older rites. In 1000 AD, November 1 became All Souls’ Day, with celebrations quite similar to those during Samhain. It began to be called All-hallows or All-hallowmas, and the day before it All-hallows Eve, which eventually became Halloween.
America became the home of Halloween when the Irish potato famine made people flee to the New World, and make the festival the national celebration it is today. An ancient festival that began as an event that would ward of spirits and evil, slowly transformed into a family-friendly festival that’s all about pumpkins, candy, and the strange and the creepy!