Halloween, celebrated every October 31st, is a holiday known for its eerie costumes, haunted houses, and candy-filled festivities. But the history of Halloween is a fascinating journey that combines ancient Celtic traditions, Christian influences, and a healthy dose of American creativity.
Halloween’s origins can be traced back over 2,000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was believed that on this night, the boundary between the living and the dead was blurred, and spirits roamed the earth. In the 7th century, the Christian church attempted to co-opt pagan traditions, and November 1st became All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day. The night before, October 31st, was referred to as All Hallows’ Eve, later shortened to Halloween. Halloween continued to evolve in medieval Europe, blending elements of Celtic and Christian traditions. It included activities such as mumming (costume parades), selling (soul cakes for the dead), and lighting bonfires to ward off evil spirits. The carved pumpkin, known as the Jack-O’-Lantern, has its roots in Irish folklore. Originally carved from turnips or potatoes, these lanterns were intended to ward off evil spirits. The tradition was brought to America, where pumpkins were more readily available.