The Fascinating Story of Halloween

Halloween jack o lantern

The history of Halloween is a long and fascinating one, but one that is still shrouded in mystery. This unique celebration is thought to trace its origins to a Celtic festival known as Samhain. This ancient festival celebrated the end of the harvest season in the Gaelic culture, and it was used as a time to inventory supplies and slaughter the livestock that would take the villagers through the winter season.

These ancient people felt that on October 31 boundary between the living and the dead broke down. This breakdown of boundaries would cause the dead to become a threat to those still alive, and the ancient Gaels felt that these wandering spirits would damage crops, cause illness and otherwise wreak havoc with the community.

A number of festivals were developed to keep these marauding spirits at bay, including bonfires and scattering the bones of slaughtered animals. These festivals also included the wearing of masks and costumes designed to placate the evil spirits and keep them from causing damage in the coming months.

So how did the name of the holiday become Halloween? Although the history of the holiday is Celtic, the name of the modern festival is not. The name Halloween derives from the celebration known as All Hallows' Day, a day now known as All Saints Day. All Hallows Day was widely celebrated in many Pagan villages throughout Europe, and it was known as the day when departed spirits returned to earth to visit their loved ones. The day before this popular holiday became known as All Hallows Eve, later shortened to simply Halloween.

The modern celebration of the Halloween holiday takes many forms, including Halloween parties where the guests all dress in their favorite costumes and of course the practice of trick or treating. Going house to house in search of candy is a time honored tradition, and one that many adults remember fondly.

Of course the world has changed a great deal, and these days many parents are choosing to keep their little ghosts and goblins at home by hosting Halloween parties for the neighborhood kids. In many parts of the country trick or treat night is limited to familiar houses and well known neighborhoods, but the tradition remains lots of fun for parents and children alike. In addition to the traditional candy fest, many parents host sleepover nights, horror movie marathons and other special treats for the neighborhood kids on this special and spooky night.

No matter how it is celebrated, Halloween in the modern world is a far cry from the original Celtic holiday. The scattered bones and cleansing bonfires are now gone, replaced with flaming Jack o' Lanterns, scary costumes and of course lots of delicious candy.

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