Origins and History
- Halloween is said to have originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.
- The Celts celebrates their New Year on 1 st, November.
- Halloween day signified the advent of winter and human death.
- According to the ancient belief, the worlds of the living and dead merged on Halloween day.
- The spirits of dead ancestors were believed to return on the night of October 31.
- The priests claimed to communicate with the dead for prophesies.
- Prophesies helped the Celtic community to survive through the long, severe winter.
Halloween Celebration in the Past History
The festival of Samhain was celebrated by lighting bonfires and sacrificing crops and animals to Celtic deities.
- The people disguised as animals using animal heads and skins.
- Fortune telling was an important tradition in the Halloween celebrations.
- People re-lit their hearth fires from the sacred flames of the bonfire.
- Bonfire was believed to protect them during the harsh winter months.
- Christianity spread into the Celtic countries during the seventh century.
- Pope Boniface designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day.
- The holiday was also referred to as “All-Hallows”.
- The night of 31 October began to be called All-Hallows Eve and gradually came to be known as “Halloween”.
- November 2 was celebrated as All Souls Day to honor the dead.
- The 3 celebrations- the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls' were combined and named Hallowmas.
History of Halloween Costumes
It was also considered that spirits of the dead would possess the bodies of alive people.
- People dressed up in ghoulish and scary costumes in order to deter the spirits from possessing their bodies.
- They would also extinguish their hearth fires in order to make their homes cold and unwelcoming to the spirits.
- People relit their home hearths only from the sacred flames of the Druidic fire.
- The Druidic fire was constantly kept burning at Usinach in the Middle of Ireland.
Halloween in America
- Halloween was introduced to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants.
- The Jack-o-lantern custom was an important part of Irish folklore.
- Jack was said to have trapped the Devil into scaling a tree and catching him up there.
- Jack was rejected entry into Heaven since he had tricked the Devil.
- The Devil is said to have given Jack a small ember for light and warmth.
- This fire was kept alight in a hollowed out turnip.
- The Irish settlers in America began to use pumpkins instead of turnips as they were more easily available.