ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The History of Halloween

Updated on October 28, 2017

The History Behind the Holiday

The name of the holiday, "Halloween" is a combination of the words, "All Hallows' Evening" or "All Hallows' Eve".

Halloween originated as a Gaelic festival that signified the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It is usually celebrated on the night of October 31st through to the early morning hours of November 1st, marking halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It belonged to four Gaelic festivals of seasonal change. The other three are Imbolic, Bealtaine, and Lughnasdh. Again, all four of these festivals are Gaelic festivals.


The holiday was originally not called "Halloween". It was called "Samhain" and is believed to have originated from Celtic pagans. That is, this predated the Christian era in Ireland. There is evidence that this date was important since ancient times. For example, it is known that the Mound of the Hostages which is a Neolithic passage tomb located at the Hill of Tara is aligned with sunrise on the day of Samhain. Many of the earliest Irish literature pieces mention "Samhain". Also, there were many important events in Irish literature that happened on Samhain.

The ancient pagans would prepare for winter by taking stock of their supplies and asking the Druid priests to pray for them and their loved ones because they knew that many of them would not make it through the winter.The festival Samhain was observed as a time when the boundary between the living world and the spiritual world or world of the dead was very thin and could easily be crossed. It was believed that the spirits had a greater ability to come into the world of the living. People would set out food and drink for the spirits while feasts were had with a place set out for a deceased loved one. People would dress up in costumes and go door to door asking for food. It is believed that they dressed up in costumes to disguise themselves in an attempt to prevent the spirits from harming them. It was believed by the Ancient Gaels that the dead would inflict sickness and damage the crops. It is believed that this was their explanation of illness flourishing in winter because they did not know anything about germs. Many of the customs of Halloween were taken from Druid and pagan traditions. The Druids would place the skulls of their ancestors in a circle to protect them from other spirits. The Druid prophets would also make prophecies about what was to come in the future, possibly as a way of trying to comfort the people as winter was always a time associated with death.

By the time of 43 A.D., the majority of the Celtic territory was conquered by the Roman Empire. However, it was earlier on in the 9nth century A.D. that Western Christianity changed the date to November 1st for All Saints Day and November 2nd for All Souls Day. As time went on the three holidays merged into one Holiday which we now call "Halloween".

Not only was Halloween seen as a day to prepare for winter, it also was seen as somewhat of a match-making holiday. In Ireland, in the 1700's, a cook who was a matchmaker would sometimes bury a ring in mashed potatoes on the night of Halloween, thinking that this would bring romantic love to the person who found the ring in her or his mashed potatoes. It was in Scotland that eligible young women would name a hazelnut for each of their suitors before throwing into them into the fireplace. In some versions the nut that burned and did not pop out of the fireplace or explode represented their future husband while in other versions, the nut that burned until it was gone was symbolic of the love of the person the nut was named after as dying out or not lasting. A different story was of a young woman, upon eating a desert made of walnuts, hazelnuts, and nutmeg before falling asleep on Halloween night would get a prophetic dream about her future husband. These traditions were still based on the idea that there was a thinning between the world of the living and the spirit world.

Test Your Halloween Knowledge

view quiz statistics

Sources Cited:

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)