Halloween is a globally recognized festive holiday. This archaic practice gave rise to the modern Halloween after many years of external influences. It all started during the Iron age; the Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago celebrated their new year on November 1st. They marked October 31stas the end of summer and the time to harvest their crops and begin safeguarding livestock for Winter. The Celts honored the start of winter with a festival called Samhain. The Agrarian Celts believed that on October 31stthe spirits of the past year’s dead finally journeyed to the afterlife, but wandering the earth to cause mischief among the living. The Celts donned costumes made to resemble ghosts of the dead before gathering around bonfires to guide evil spirits back to their grave.
Around 43 A.D., the Roman Empire conquered the majority of Celtic Territory but did not wipe out the Celts. The two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the Celtic tradition of Samhain. The First Roman tradition was called Feralia. It is a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second Roman tradition was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The fruit apple symbolizes Pomona. Both of these Roman holidays strengthened the Samhain tradition. In the mid-fifth century, the Roman Empire fell and the Celts returned to independence.
In AD 601, Pope Gregory sent missionaries to Christianize foreign lands. He didn’t want to eliminate local holidays and customs, but rather convert them into Christian rites. The church hoped setting new Christian holy days would transition more easily into worshiping Christ.
The Celts never abandoned their ancient customs even though they accepted and participated in two Christian feast days, All Soul’s Day and All Saint’s Day. The Celts began to leave gifts of sweet foods outside their homes to keep away both the dead and the people who wore costumes and masks. The tradition of dressing up as a dead soul began in Scotland. It was called mumming or trick or treating in modern day terms. It soon spread to other Celtic areas.
Modern Halloween costumes consist of ghosts, skeletons, or other variations of spiritual beings. The jack o’ lantern grew out of the Irish practice of carving faces into hollowed turnips and gourds. Immigrants from the Celtic countries brought the Jack o’ lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They found that pumpkins make perfect jack o’ lanterns.
The history of Halloween went from scary urban legends to a modern day celebration. People celebrate Halloween differently from the original Celts to the Romans to countries around the world in modern day.