Origins of Halloween

Halloween is an internationally celebrated festival that is held on the 31st of October every year, where there are traditions such as trick or treating and dressing up in costumes. But despite being such a popular, well-known festivity, with over 172million Americans alone celebrating this October, many are unaware  of the origins of this holiday and how it came to be one of the biggest, most loved festivals in the calendar year.

The tradition originated with the festival of Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival, where people would commonly wear costumes to deflect ghosts and light bonfires. Approximately 2,000 years ago, the Celts in the UK, Ireland and northern France celebrated their new year on November 1st and in the 8th century, the Pope of the time, Pope Gregory III allocated All Saints Day to fall on the 1st November. This meant that the traditions of the festival of Samhain were implemented on All Saints Day. This day signified the beginning of the Winter, which was a season often associated with death, and marked the end of the Summer and harvest. It was widely believed that the New Year’s Eve was where there was no clear boundary between the living world and the world of the dead. The evening before All Saints Day was known as All Hallows Eve, which over time evolved to the famous Halloween we celebrate now. On All Hallows Eve, the Celts believed that the ghosts of the dead would return to Earth on that very day.

Traditions of All Hallows Eve consisted of the Druids, the Celtic priests, building sacred bonfires, where the Celts would gather to offer animals and crops as sacrifices to the deities. The origins of the costumes we see in this day and age originated from the animal heads and skins the Celts wore during this festival as they tried to make predictions about the future.