Halloween is the one of the oldest holidays we celebrate. It’s also one of the most popular holidays, second only to Christmas. The history of the holiday makes it more fascinating.
For many people Halloween is a time for fun, putting on costumes, trick-or-treating and having theme parties. Others see it as a time of superstitions, ghosts, goblins and evil spirits that should be avoided at all costs. Some see it as evil, but mostly it is celebrated with no reference to pagan rituals or the occult.
Halloween is on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead. Halloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back more than 2000 years. It is the evening before All Saints Day, which was created by Christians to convert pagans, and is celebrated on November 1st. The Catholic church honored saints on this designated day.
There are many versions of the origins and old customs of Halloween, some remain consistent by all accounts. Different cultures view Halloween somewhat differently but traditional Halloween practices remain the same. Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was annually on October 31st to honor the dead.
Samhain signifies “summers end” or November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration fed on superstition.
The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. Since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil and ensure next years crops would be plentiful. This custom evolved into trick-or-treating.