The tradition of Halloween derives from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced as Sow-in.)
Samhain was a fire festival held on November 1st to mark the end of harvest and the start of the ‘darker-half’ of the year. The festivities would begin on the evening of October 31st through until sunset on November 1st. There was a belief that during this time there was a cross over between the land of the living and the land of the spirits and the dead – believing that it was the ghosts and spirits who caused the darker days, resulting in people dying and crops not growing.
So Samhain was a festival which involved dressing up in costumes in an attempt to ward off any unwanted spirits in the hope that there would be less loss.
In the year 609, Pope Boniface IV declared ‘All Saints Day’ to be known at May 13th… later, in the mid eighteenth century, Pope Gregory III strategically moved this celebration to November 1st, to coincide with Samhain. Soon, the night before All Saints Day became known as ‘All Hollows Eve’ and later ‘Halloween!’
Once All Saints Day and Halloween had reached America, we slowly started to see changes and adaptations being made. People would go from house to house asking for food and money – which evolved into the Trick-Or-Treating that we all know and love today.
Eventually the newspapers began to encourage parents to remove the supernatural, superstitious and grotesque aspects from Halloween and started to promote a more community based celebration instead.
Eventually, Halloween was celebrated more than All Saints Day and there became parties and games and new traditions being made.
There are not too many people who still celebrate it in the original manner anymore, but the origins of this holiday are a lot darker than the people of today might realise…