The origin of Halloween | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 31, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 31, 2017

The origin of Halloween

The candy laden and costume parading Halloween of popular culture owes its beginnings to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

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. They believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead, or the 'veil', became blurred and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

While these spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future, specially harvests, they were mischievous beings. These spirits could play tricks on the living- even going as far as to possessing unaware individuals, so it was advantageous to “hide” from them by wearing costumes. Also, the sprits could be sated with food offerings, specifically sweets.

Fast forward to the second half of the nineteenth century, European immigrants brought their varied Halloween customs with them to the United States. These customs, by then were already infused with Roman and Christian influences and included pumpkin carvings or Jack-o-lanterns to ward off spirits as well as the act of giving candy or money.

The Halloween we see now was a harvest festival at heart for people that depended on the forces of nature. Sitting in the overly connected 21st century, the appropriation is a fun way to celebrate without the supernatural elements. 


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