The origins of Halloween
Modern Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes and sweeties. However, Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. 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. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
People gathered with the druids to build bonfires and to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
The Romans arrived and their ceremony to remember the dead, also in October, was incorporated with the Celtic one of Samhain. After that with the arrival of Christianity, All Souls Day was also absorbed. This ceremony was celebrated in a similar fashion to Samhain; bonfires and dressing up as saints, angels and devils. This ceremony was also called All Hallows and finally the Celtic and Christian ceremonies merged into All Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween.
With the movement of European immigrants into America the traditions of Halloween were transferred across the Atlantic. Today the Americans celebrate Halloween big style. Try a trip to New York around this day. Great to get involved!
Don’t want to dress up like a ghost? I made a special Halloween sock box! Bloody red and pumpkin orange socks. You can still celebrate but just a bit more subtle.
Cheers and pumpkins Edgar