The festivities of Halloween have already begun, but do we really know the origins and traditions that started it all? You may be surprised to learn that Halloween was started almost 2,000 years ago by the ancient Celts. During this time of year, the Celts held a festival, known as Samhain, to celebrate the end of the harvest season. They created large bon fires and honored the dead because they believed their spirits roamed the earth on this day. The Celts felt that Satan corrupted these spirits the most on this day since it marks the transition from the lively months of harvest into the dead, cold and lifeless months of winter. For this reason the Celts dressed up to mimic the dead and to hopefully scare their corrupted spirits away from inhabiting a human body.
The festival of Samhain soon became merged with Christianity when the Romans conquered the Celtic peoples in the 8th century A.D. The Christian Church in hopes of converting these pagan Celts moved All Saints Day to November 1st so they can still honor their dead. Christians added to this day’s festivities, the practice of “souling,” where people would beg for some food and in return the beggars would pray for the person’s dead relatives. Souling was eventually termed trick-or-treating in modern times. In this new practice, if people do not have any treats to offer, the beggars can damage or humiliate the owner’s property. However, this was usually only a clever play on words and no one really destroyed property. Now you can go into the darkness of Halloween night with a little more insight.