Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31, every year. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats.
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
Halloween Poem by Jynx
It always happens at this time of year.
The hissing of unlucky black cat,
And overhead all the screeching bats.
When gone completely is the sun,
The vampires come out to have some fun.
Witches stir their cauldrons or grab onto a broom,
Casting spells and cackling as they fly across the moon.
Skeletons dance around shaking all their bones,
Playing many strange tunes on all their xylophones.
Ghosts and goblins join the fun too,
Running about and shouting out BOO!
Jack-o-lanterns smiling and burning bright,
Don’t worry it’s just another Halloween Night.
∼ “Halloween: Spooky Scary” Poem by Jynx
10 Things to Do on Halloween When It’s No Longer Socially Acceptable for You to Trick-or-Treat
- Watch a scary movie…
- Binge-watch a season of American Horror Story…
- Carve pumpkins…
- Go bobbing for apples…
- Hit up a hayride…
- Or hit up a haunted house…
- Head to a Halloween party — or host one of your own! …
- Bake a candy cake.