The origins of Halloween come from Great Britain, where the Celts lived 2000 years ago. The Celtic festival of Samhain, celebrated on October 31, marked the end of the year. It was believed that at this crucial gateway into the next year, spirits could return to earth. To celebrate and prepare for the new year and to ward off the spirits, Druids, or Celtic priests, made bonfires in the centre of the village. The tribal people and townsfolk would extinguish the flames in their houses. At the central fire, they dressed in animal skins to offer sacrifices to the Celtic gods, then re-lit their torches to bring good luck and blessings for the new year. The night, therefore, was full of darkness, spirits, and dressing in animal skins to offer sacrifices.
Around A.D. 43 when the Romans conquered the Celts and subsequently ruled them for nearly 400 years, Roman Catholic tradition blended with the Celtic tradition. The Roman Catholic celebration of Feralia, a day in late October for commemoration of the dead, began to interfuse with Samhain. In the 7th century, Roman Catholic Pope Boniface IV officially designated November 1 as “All Saints’ Day”, an official Catholic holiday. All Saints’ Day, also known as “All Hallows Day”, was a day to honour the saints and martyrs of the Church. Samhain, still celebrated on October 31, began to be called “All Hallow’s Eve” – eventually colloquially called “All Hallow’een,” and finally, “Halloween.” Later, near A. D. 1000, the Roman Catholic Church designated November 2 as “All Souls’ Day” to honour the deceased.
Jack-o-lanterns - Pumpkin Lanterns These are hollowed out pumpkins with a face cut into one side. According to an Irish legend, jack-o-lanterns were named for a man named Jack, who could not enter heaven because he was a miser. He could not enter hell either, because he had played jokes on the devil. So instead, he had to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgment Day.
Fire Fire was very important to the Celts as it was to all early people. In the old days people lit bonfires, to scare away evil spirits. They believed that light had power over darkness. In some places they used to jump over the fire to bring good luck. Today, we light candles in pumpkin lanterns and then put them outside our homes to frighten away witches and ghosts.
The Roman festival for remembering the dead was also in October. During this time, the Romans remembered their goddess, Pomona. She was the goddess of the trees and fruit, and when the Romans came to Britain, they began to hold these two festivals on the same day as Samhain. Apple games probably became associated with Halloween because of this.
We play the game bobbing for apples, in which apples are placed in a tub or a large basin of water. The contestants, sometimes blindfolded, must take one bite from one of the apples without using their hands. It is not permitted to edge the apple to the side of the bowl to get hold of it.
Dressing up - The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits.
Trick or Treat Halloween was a time for making mischief - many parts of England still recognise Halloween as Mischief Night - when children would knock on doors demanding a treat (Trick or Treat) and people would disguise themselves as witches, ghosts and spunkies, in order to obtain food and money from nervous householders.
Halloween is always celebrated
on 31 October.
Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world, dating back over
2000 years to the time of the Celts who lived in Britain
Halloween is correctly spelt as
It is thought that the colours orange and black became Halloween colours because
orange is associated with harvests (Halloween marks the end of harvest) and black is associated with death.