The history of Halloween is a long one. Many cultural practices have conspired to create the product we have today. I’ll try to present this information chronologically to avoid confusion, and will add a few of my own thoughts at the end. I do not claim to have created a comprehensive account here; only a brief over-view, since many are not familiar with the basic history of Halloween.
Pronounced sow-in, Samhain was a holiday celebrated by the Celts. They lived in modern-day Ireland, Britain, and Northern France, around 2000 years ago. It was celebrated for three days beginning November 1st. Since their days ended and began at sun-down, it started on the evening of October 31st by modern standards. This was the end of harvest and the beginning of winter for them, and they believed during this time, the veil between the dead and living was all but lifted, allowing many of the dead to roam the region.
The Celts believed some of these spirits were evil, and so appeased them with certain rituals. Among these rituals were large bon-fires, the sacrificing of crops and animals, the wearing of animal skins and heads, and leaving out treats, such as food and drink through the night. The Druids, who were Celtic priests, would also do fortune-telling, and other occult practices, since they thought it easier to have access to that power during this time.
Enter The Romans
In the first century A.D. the Romans took over the Celts’ territory. This did not end Celtic practices, but rather, the Romans and Celts simply combined some of their practices which had similar themes, and also coincidentally were celebrated at the same time. Feralia was one such holiday that the Romans celebrated at the end of October, which was a time to recognize the dead. This obviously went well with Samhain. The other was Pomona, a goddess the Roman’s worshiped who they recognized as a goddess of fruits, which also probably went along with the harvest theme.
In the 9th century, Catholicism swept the region in question. They also had a holiday already in place around the time of Samhain. It was All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, or Hallowmas, celebrated on the 1st of November. This was a day to recognize the martyrs and saints who had passed on. Once again, a theme of death. They added to this holiday by observing All Souls Day on the following day. This day had a similar theme, but included all the dead, not just saints and martyrs. This day was spent having parades, and celebrating around huge bon-fires, donning costumes representing saints, angels, and devils.
This is also the time when modern terminology came about for the holiday we now call Halloween. At first it was referred to as All Hallows Even, since October 31st was the eve of All Hallows Day. It then turned into All Hallows Eve, Hallow’een, and finally Halloween.
Interesting isn’t it, how all these similar holidays were combined to create our modern holiday? It’s thought provoking for me anyway, since I don’t believe in coincidences. Also, the fact that the holiday is saturated with a history of death and occultism, is enough to keep me from celebrating it. I won’t launch into a lengthy sermon here, since I would rather have people draw their own conclusions based on the facts, but I do want to point out two more things. The first is the fact that in early America, Halloween had practically no place because of the protestant faith that pervaded the colonies. The second is the fact that today, satanists hold this as the third most important holiday they celebrate. All food for thought, and as always, feel free to share yours in the comments section.
Sources: History. com