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The History of Halloween

Cătălina Cîrnațu, 10D


Halloween is a holiday that occurs on October 31st; in 2022, it will fall on a Monday. The custom has its roots in the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, when people would dress up and build bonfires to fend off ghosts. Pope Gregory III established November 1 as a day to celebrate all saints in the ninth century. Soon, elements of Samhain's customs were absorbed into All Saints Day. Before Halloween, the previous evening was referred to as All Hallows Eve. Over time, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, attending parties, dressing up, and enjoying treats have all become part of Halloween.


Ancient Origins of Halloween


Halloween's roots can be found in the historic Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). On November 1, the Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in a region that is today primarily Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated the beginning of their new year.



On this day, summer, harvest, and the gloomy, chilly winter, which was sometimes a season of fatalities for people, came to an end. The night before the new year, according to the Celts, the line separating the living from the dead becomes hazy. On the evening of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, a time when it was thought that the spirits of the dead made a comeback to the planet.


Celts believed that the presence of supernatural spirits made it simpler for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make future forecasts, in addition to causing difficulties and harming harvests. These forecasts served as a significant source of solace for a people wholly reliant on the unpredictable natural environment during the long, dark winter.



Druids constructed enormous sacred bonfires to serve as a reminder of the occasion, and people gathered around them to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. The Celts attempted to tell one other's fortunes while dressing up in costumes made typically of animal heads and skins.


They re-lit their hearth fires, which they had put out earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire after the festival was done in order to help safeguard them during the upcoming winter.


By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.



The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is practised today on Halloween.

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