Halloween History

Topics: Halloween, Samhain, Celts Pages: 4 (1317 words) Published: November 12, 2013

Halloween’s origin has its part in the Celtic festival known as Samhain. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. After the holiday was brought to America, it was slowly changed over the generations. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, jack-o-lanterns, and costumes.

Samhain dates back to the ancient Celts who lived 2,000 years ago. “On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth (“Halloween”). Samhain, the Pagan holiday, in on November 1st but their celebrations did and still do start at sunset on October 31st. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes and danced around the bonfire.

In addition to celebrations and dance, it was believed that the thin veil between the physical world and the other world provided extra energy for communications between the living and the dead. With these communications, Druid Priests and Celtic Shamans would attempt to tell the fortunes of individual people through a variety of methods. For people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of the comfort and direction during the long dark winter.

The Romans began to conquer the Celtic territories. By A.D. 43 they succeeded in claiming the majority of the Celtic lands (“Halloween”). The ruled for approximately four hundred years. Combining or influencing many Celtic traditional celebrations with their own. Two of the Roman festivals, Feralia and Pomona were merged with Samhain. Both were held at the end of October.

Feralia is the Roman festival in commemoration for the passing of the dead. This day was created with a combination of Roman beliefs and that of Samhain. Pomona is the Roman festival day of honoring. “The apple is a symbol used in Pomona, who is the Goddess of fruit. ‘Bobbing for apples’ is a Halloween tradition taken from the Roman Pomona (“Where...

Cited: Bacon, Elizabeth. “Halloween.” Encyclopedia Americana. 13 vols. Danbury, Print.
“Halloween.” 2013. The History Channel. website. Nov 5 2013
“History of the Jack O ' Lantern.” 2013. The History Channel. website. Nov 5 2013
Hiskey, Daven. “How the Tradition of Trick-or-Treating got Started.” Today I Found out. Print.
“Where Did We Get Halloween?” 2013. Website. Nov 5 2013
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