Origin Of Halloween

Luke Wiggins

How Halloween Started


Ah Halloween, the time of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. Halloween is a time to trick or treat, go to parties, or roll peoples houses. How did Halloween even come about though? The actual origins of Halloween are quite murky, however you can trace it back to Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, and medieval practices.

The actual day of Halloween was started by the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts lived about 2,000 years ago in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. They thought on October 31st (Samhain) the dead returned to the Earth. People would then light fires and wear costumes to ward off the ghosts.

By 43 A.D the roman empire has captured almost all of the Celtic lands. While they were in control of the Celts, two roman celebrations and Samhain combined. First there was Feralia, this day in late October celebrated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor the roman goddess Pomona, her symbol is an apple which is likely where we get the bobbing for apples Halloween tradition.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV established All Martyrs Day in the western church. Later, Pope Gregory III changed it to include saints as well and changed the date to November 1st. By the 9th century Christianity was in the Celtic lands and blended with other Celtic rituals. The church made November 2nd All Souls’ Day in 1000 A.D. as a day to honor the dead. This day was also called All-hallows or All-Hallow-mas, the day before was called All-Hallows Eve where we get Halloween.

Poor people would visit the houses of rich people and soul cakes if they promised to pray for the rich peoples dead relatives. This was later done by children, who would go to other houses asking for gifts. In Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in guising a tradition were they would dress up in costumes and accept offerings from various people. They would sing, recite a poem, tell a joke or perform another sort of “trick” before collecting their treats.