Updated: Oct 25, 2022
Halloween is a holiday that is celebrated by many countries around the world, and different versions of it are celebrated as well, but not many people know the origin of Halloween or where it came from. In the US, it is a holiday that is celebrated by dressing up in different costumes and going trick or treating, getting candy from houses. While that is a large part of it nowadays, the origin of the holiday is much more interesting than that.
Halloween was originally known as All Hallows Eve, which happened on October 31st because November 1st was the Celtics “New Year”, which was when Summer would end and the cold would take over. “This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death,”(History.com - History). All Hallows Eve included a Celtic festival called Samhain where the people would dress up in costumes to scare off ghosts and evil spirits. They would also build bonfires to sacrifice crops to the Celtic deities and they believed that this night made it easier to tell the future. So Celtic priests would try to tell people's fortunes during this night as well. It is also believed that on this day, the real world and the spirit world would be merged and spirits would be allowed to walk the earth. When the Roman empire eventually took over the Celtic territory, there was a Roman tradition called Feralia, that was combined with the celebration of Samhain. Feralia was when the Romans would honor the dead passing away, and many other religions and groups of people have days very similar to this as well.
Although Halloween was originally a Celtic holiday, in later years there was a Christian influence on it. All Hallow’s Eve or All Saints day was created as a day to commemorate all holy saints and holy martyrs. The holiday was originally on May 13 but it was moved to November 1st by Pope Gregory the third and many believe that the day was changed to happen at the same time as the Pagan or Celtic holiday.
When Halloween originally came to America, it was not widely accepted and the traditions were very limited. History.com says, “The first celebrations included “play parties,” which were public events held to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing,” (History.com - History). As Irish people were coming to America, they helped make Halloween popular all over the country.
Although Halloween has a large history behind it, it has been made into a holiday for people all over to dress up in fun costumes, go trick or treating, carve pumpkins, and eat lots of candy. Halloween has become a very fun and popular tradition, but it is also important to know the history behind it.
Mo is a Senior at Poudre High School and is in her first year working with the Poudre Press. She runs a blog called Watashiato Press, about the affect that people's words have on each other and social issues. Check it out here!
History.com Editors. “Halloween 2022.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 18 Nov. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween.
Mark, Joshua J. “History of Halloween.” World History Encyclopedia, Https://Www.worldhistory.org#Organization, 19 Oct. 2022, https://www.worldhistory.org/article/1456/history-of-halloween/.
English, AS. “What Is All Saints Day and Why Do We Celebrate It?” Diario AS, 1 Nov. 2021, https://en.as.com/en/2021/11/01/latest_news/1635761551_829068.html.