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The Origins of Halloween

Halloween, the night of frights and delights. We all know and love Halloween (and the post Halloween candy sales), but many of us have no idea where this holiday
came from.

The origins of Halloween can be traced to about 2000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts occupied what is now modern-day Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France, and they used to celebrate the new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and harvest and the beginning to the dark and cold winter, and was often associated with human death.

The Celts believed that on the night before the new year (October 31st), the lines between the living and the dead became blurred and that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth on this night. They believed that these spirits caused trouble and damaged their crops, but they also believe that the presence of these spirits made it easier for Druids (Celtic Priests) to make predictions about the future. As these people were solely dependent on the natural world, these prophecies were very important and provided comfort and direction during the upcoming winter. Their celebration consisted of dressing up in costumes, usually animal skins and heads, and sacrificing crops and animals to a huge bonfire.

Now, it gets really confusing around the Roman Empire, when the Romans combined their similar holiday with the Celtic one. Then, Christianity rolled around and tried its hardest to replace this non-Christian day. So how did all of this even get to America? Halloween was established when some European settlers combined their beliefs with Native American similar beliefs. This was made even stronger during the 19th century when more immigrants came over from Ireland during the potato famine. The Irish also introduced our tradition of trick or treating.

So yes, Halloween did go through many changes before coming to America, and continues to change to be more community centered. All I know is, I’m going to be taking full advantage of those post Halloween candy sales. Trick or Treat!

Rachel Armstrong is a freshman at Auburn University pursuing a degree in English Literature and aspires to be a high school English teacher. Her favorite hobbies include reading, cooking, and playing video games. As a huge animal lover Rachel likes to spend her spare time volunteering at the Lee County Humane society so that she can give homeless animals the love they deserve.
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