The festival of Halloween is celebrated on October 31st each year. It falls on the day before All Saints’ Day. The Halloween History has its roots in the Christian All Saints’ Day and the Celtic festival of Samhain. The festival originated in Ireland and is now a secular celebration.

Later Irish immigrants carried this tradition to North America. The traditional colors of Halloween are orange and black. Halloween traditions and customs include carving jack-o’-lantern and activities like trick-or-treating, ghost tours, reading scary stories, costume parties, bonfires etc.

History of Halloween

The Celtic festival of Samhain was celebrated over 2000 years ago in the areas of Ireland, United Kingdom and northern France. It was celebrated at the end of the harvest season was also known as ‘Celtic New Year’. It was also a time when Celtic pagans took stock of supplies and livestock before the winter. It was believed that on Halloween, the world of the living and the dead became one. The dead caused various problems to the living through damaged crops or sickness. The festival included bonfires where the Celts would burn the slaughtered bones of livestock. They wore masks and costumes to pacify the evil spirits. In Scotland, young men wore masks, blackened their faces or dressed in white to copy the dead.

Around 43 AD the Romans conquered the Celtic territory. In the following 400 years the two Roman festivals merged with the Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first Roman festival was Feralia when the Romans commemorated their dead in late October. The second day was to honor the Roman goddess of trees and fruit, Pomona. The apple was the symbol of Pomona. Today the ‘bobbing’ of apples is a Halloween tradition.

Origin of Halloween Name

Halloween was spelled like Hallowe’en which was a shortened version of ‘All Hallows’ Even’ or All Hallows’ Eve. The word ‘eve’ is an abbreviation for evening while ‘hallows’ mean ‘saints’. It means ‘all saints’ evening’ which is now All Saints’ Day. Later in the 800’s Christianity spread in Celtic lands. Pope Boniface IV designated All Saints’ Day on November 1st in the 7th century to honor the martyrs and saints. The church was trying to replace this Celtic festival with a church holiday. It was called All-hallowmas or All-hallows meaning All Saints’ Day. The night of Samhain which was the night before came to be known as All-hallows Eve which later became Halloween. Later in 1000 AD, the Church designated November 2nd as All Souls’ Day to commemorate the dead. This was celebrated like Samhain.

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