In light of today’s festivities, I thought it would be interesting to share where our annual celebration of Halloween originally comes from.
It all dates back to about 2,000 years ago, when the Celtic people lived in present-day Ireland, northern France, and the UK. Each year on October 31st, the Celts celebrated the Samhain (pronounced sow-in) festival, which marked the transition from the end of summer and harvest season to the dark and cold time of year, which they associated with death. They believed that on this night, the separation between the living and the dead became blurred, and that the spirits of the dead returned to the earth to ruin crops. To prepare for this return, the Celts wore costumes, typically of animal heads and skins, and attempted to predict each other’s futures.
By A.D. 43, the Celtic territory had been conquered by the Romans. After this, the original Samhain festival was combined with Roman tradition in the celebration of Feralia. In this ceremony the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona, was honored by bobbing for apples.
Once the 800s rolled around, the influence of Christianity was great. Pope Boniface IV designated November 1st All Saint’s Day, which led to the night before to be called All Hallow’s Eve, which eventually became Halloween. The people started to celebrate this day very similarly to the original Celts thousands of years before, having big bonfires and dressing up as saints, angels, and devils. And over time, this celebration has evolved into what it is today!
Interesting Facts about Halloween:
- It is estimated that approximately 36 million children between the ages of 5-13 go trick-or-treating each year
- The average American consumes 26 pounds of candy each year, most of it resulting from Halloween
- Around the time of Halloween, approximately 99% of pumpkins sold are used for Jack-O-Lanterns
- Trick or Treating is attributed to Irish people
- Pumpkins also come in white, green, and blue colors