ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Story of Halloween

Updated on October 15, 2014
Haunted Halloween landscape
Haunted Halloween landscape | Source

Halloween is a Turning Point in Time

Our ancestors paid great attention to times which marked a change, a turning point from what-was-before to what-is-now. They believed these Turning Points in Time were endowed with Magic. They saw them as filled with portent.

We still look at anniversaries in this way, and celebrate such turning points as significant birthdays, college graduations and other meaningful times when we change from one state to another.

But there are many more transitions. The time between one night and the new dawn, the meeting of sea and shore, the closing of an old year and the opening of the new, these times are made of mystery and magic.

The turning of the year is the time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and the living can communicate with their beloved dead.

One of these times is Halloween.

At Halloween we Cross a Threshold

This night has long been a special time. It's been called many names, in many places.

The celebrations, which include a night to honour ancient gods, a welcome to a new season, an opportunity to respect to the beloved dead, all hinge on the act of passing through a gate in our lives, of crossing over a threshold.

It's a time that we pass from one place to the other.

Samhain, the Fire Festival

If you lived in Ancient Ireland

In the Celtic calendar this time of year was celebrated as Samhain, an ancient fire festival and generally regarded as the Celtic New Year.

Let's say you were living in ancient Ireland. This would be the time for the herds from summer pasture to be brought down, the great fire would be rekindled for the coming year and the portents examined for the future. The souls of the dead would revisit their earthly homes on this day.

Sacred Fire
Sacred Fire

Time to Reap and to Reflect

Traditionally, Samhain was time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies, and decide which animals would need to be slaughtered in order for the people and livestock to survive the winter. This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock.

As the festival signifies the end of the Summer and the time of reflection, so does it signify the time to bring in the spiritual harvest and give thanks for the bounty.

The sacred fires remained but their significance was forgotten

All Hallows and Hallowmas

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, replacing Samhain with a ceremony to honour saints and martyrs.

But the new religion was grafted onto the old. The sacred fires remained, though their significance was forgotten. The cross no longer represented the rays of the sun on water, but the cross of Calvary. The fires which had been built to propitiate the old god were now lit for protection against him.

The autumn festival became the vigil of All Hallows or All Saints' Day.

This holy day grew to include November 2 as All Souls' Day, a day to honour the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year
The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year

A scholarly work by Jean Markale, best known for his numerous works on Celtic civilisation, the Druids and on King Arthur,


As time goes by

Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history and the ancient festival has been transformed into the realm of folk observances.

The tradition of trick-or-treating dates back to All Souls' Day Parades in England when the poor would beg for pastries called soul cakes. In return, the grateful beggar would promise to pray for the family's dead relatives. Eventually going a-souling was taken up by children who would visit houses in their neighbourhood and be given ale, food, and money.

When it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, demons and other assorted evil creatures, offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink.

This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved. To this day, witches, ghosts, and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favourite disguises.

From Samhain to Halloween - National Geographic Channel

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

Scare me!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Great one - thanks for sharing!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 

      4 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Enjoyable reading! There's a lot more to Halloween that we know!

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      You always have something new to teach me. Fire Festival? I did not have a clue. Never heard of it prior to my visit. You may be the worlds most wonderful trivia buff or should I say pursuer of interesting facts?

    • JillY88 profile image


      6 years ago

      All this talk of ghosts and scary things makes my skin crawl. Not going to sleep well tonight. Great lens.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 

      6 years ago from California

      Beautifully done, and a lot less rambling than my own attempt. :) Blessed be!

    • WhiteOak50 profile image


      8 years ago

      Like this lens, very good write up.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congratulations! You've been SquidBoo Blasted. Happy Halloween!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, 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:

    Show Details
    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 or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    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)
    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.
    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)