I was sitting in my room watching Gravity Falls when I thought to myself, where did Halloween come from? It has no religious ties in our modern-day world and it is a day to dress up and pass out candy. I started to do some research and it is really interesting!
The idea of Halloween originated from a Celtic festival called Samhain. At this festival people would wear costumes and light bonfires to ward off ghosts, Samhain was celebrated on the night before November 1st. On this night, it is believed that the dead returned to Earth, hence why they wore costumes and lit bonfires to ward the dead off. On November 1st was the Celtic New Year. This New Year represented death, transitioning from summer which is full of life and blooming crops to fall and winter where everything dies away.
Eventually, the Roman Empire took over the Celtic Area which means Samhain ceased to exist. In its place were two events, Feralia and Pomona. Feralia was a day where the Romans commemorated the dead, extremely similar to Samhain. The second day, Pomona, was a day dedicated to the goddess Pomona who rules over fruit and trees. (This is where the tradition for bobbing for apples came from, since the Ponomas symbol is an apple.)
Fast forward many years to where the Catholic Church took over. The church made November 2nd ‘All Souls Day’ which, just like Samhain and Feralia, honored the dead. On this day the people lit bonfires and dressed up and eventually this day was referred to as ‘All Hallows Eve.’ That is where the word Halloween came from.
The colonizers took over America which is when the traditional idea of Halloween began to form.
Halloween took centuries to fully develop into the beloved holiday it is today. It is really interesting how Halloween did end up forming from a somewhat religious holiday into how it is not associated with any religion now. Dressing up has always been a tradition and it is so crazy how we still do that today. The idea of horror came from when the dead would return to Earth, which I think is where the idea of zombies came from. All in all, Halloween is a special holiday, where everyone dresses up as their favorite characters and gets candy from trick or treating or eating out of the bowl. When you’re celebrating Halloween, light a bonfire to commemorate its history and think of how much this holiday has evolved. Be safe and happy Halloween!