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Tracing the Roots of Halloween

Updated on October 5, 2010

The Origin of Halloween

The American version of Halloween has it's roots in Druidism and predates Christianity (the original date would differ due to a different calendar). The celebration was known at the time as Samhain, which is pronounced sow-en, and originated in the Celtic regions of the earth.

November 1st marked the beginning of the new year and the start of a long and harsh winter. The Celts practiced worship and idolization of false gods and they believed that the night prior to the new year caused a convergence, and the land of the living and the land of the dead became obscured and overlapped. Both good and evil spirits roamed the earth at this time, according to legend.

The Celts believed that malevolent spirits came back to the land of the living to bring trouble and mischief and to destroy both animals and crops, and to bring death to the living, during this time before the new year. (Starting the New Year with the festival of SAMHAIN, when the world starts to darken into winter. The veil between the human world and the world of the dead becomes very thin. This gives you the opportunity to invite your ancestors over the veil to join in the feast. The following day in the calendar has no name, this is to stop the spirits from being trapped in our world, and to make the journey back over the veil much easier. The modern date for this is 31 October, and goes a long way to explaining the depiction of the ghosts and ghouls at Halloween (All Hallows Eve). The Christian church was unable to stop this festival, so they tacked on All Souls Day, and All Saints Day, to try to counter the effects following Halloween...from http://www.gallica.co.uk/celts/calendar.htm)

Samhain actually means 'summer's end'. At this time the Celts would make costumes from the skins parts of animals they had killed. They made large bonfires and they practiced sacrificial offerings of the weaker and older animals as well as the less fruitful of their harvested crops. Using turnips, potatoes or beets or such, the Celts made lanterns with burning embers of the bonfire. The Celts believed these lanterns would offer protection from the evil spirits that were roaming about to find a target. The Celts also dressed in costumes that they might fool the evil spirits into believing that they were one of them, securing their safety from possession or even death.


The Celtic regions were eventually conquered by the Roman Catholic Church. The Church had began a practice known as 'All Saints Day or All Hallow's Day'. This was a day (Nov. 1st) that the saints that had died, were honored. The two celebrations merged (Samhain and All Hallow's Day) and halloween (All Hallow's Eve) slowly evolved. Today, most all of the pagan and heathen religions of the world use this mergence to celebrate and claim this day as their own.

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    • Debradoo profile imageAUTHOR

      Debradoo 

      8 years ago from Cocoa, Florida

      Amen FriendofTruth! Thanks for reading. :-)

    • FriendofTruth profile image

      FriendofTruth 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for the hub! This is also true with so many other celebrations. We just have to be careful as Christians to seek the Lord for truth and discernment in these things and research them out.

      God bless!

    • Debradoo profile imageAUTHOR

      Debradoo 

      8 years ago from Cocoa, Florida

      Thank you Loves for the encouragement. And I agree, the jack-0-lanterns and the costumes speak loud enough. :-)

    • Loves To Read profile image

      Loves To Read 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for this information Debradoo. Living in the country in Aus i had never encountered it here until the past 10 years. We used to have Bonfire night and fireworks on November 5th but that was stopped many years ago.

      As a Christian these are things that i have never concerned myself with. I think the pumpkins and costumes say enough.

      God Bless

    • Debradoo profile imageAUTHOR

      Debradoo 

      8 years ago from Cocoa, Florida

      Sure thing Lifegate. I was inspired to re-post this hub (from last year on another website) when I read your own hub concerning the celebrating of Halloween. https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Whats-Hal...

      God bless.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      8 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Debradoo,

      Thanks for the information and for pointing me to this hub.

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