How did Halloween begin?

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

How did Halloween start and who is responsible? This is a loaded question! Halloween first began as a celebration of harvest, particularly the end of harvest and the beginning of colder, darker days. This tradition began with the Celts, who lived centuries ago in regions of Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France. The Celts were known to celebrate their new years on November 1st because it marked the beginning of winter and the end of summer. This was an important time of year for the Celts because it marked the end of the harvest, which would bring about, not only the death of crops and livestock, but also many people in their town who wouldn't survive the cold of winter. This end of summer and beginning of winter was often associated with human death and the Celts believed that the veil between the living and the dead would be opened and that the spirits of the dead would return to earth. This "end of harvest" celebration was known as Samhain(sow-in) and was celebrated on October 31st.

The Celts would leave a place at their table for their deceased relatives and even serve them their own plate of food. During this festival, there was often a fortune teller who would predict the future and people would dress up as ghosts and demons in order to scare away any evil spirits trying to cross the veil between the living and the dead.

The festival of Samhain(Sow-in) was appropriated by the Roman Empire in 609 A.D. after they took over the Celts land. The Romans changed the name of the festival to Feralia, where they commemorated the passing of the dead and Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol for Pomona is an apple, which explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is still celebrated in modern times. The Catholic Church later adopted some of the traditions of Samhain(Sow-in) by honoring Martyrs and Saints and Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome as a place to honor them.

Samhain(Sow-in) was later established as All-hallows Eve, or All Saints Day, in honor of the holy saints and martyrs who died for Christ. All-hallows Eve was later changed to Halloween and eventually made its way into the western world. Halloween wasn't as popular in north America because of the rift between Protestants and Catholics but later was popularized as immigrants, especially Irish immigrants made their way to America. What is your favorite part about Halloween? How do you celebrate it? Do you view Halloween as a religious holiday to commemorate the dead or just as a fun excuse to have a party? Share your story and thoughts in the comments below 👇 Share with your friends and subscribe to receive weekly stories!

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