All about Halloween: facts and history


Caitlin Regan (Flickr)

The Celts would celebrate with festivals that would frequently involve bonfires, into which the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to copy the evil spirits or placate them.

Jocelynn Klein, Staff reporter

Halloween is the most ghoulish time of the year. Especially with all the spooky costumes, haunted houses, carving pumpkins, parties, horror movie bingeing, trick or treating, and lots more. Have you ever wondered when it started?

Well, it originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. The day marked the end  of summer and the harvest and the beginning of Winter. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the lines between the living and the dead became blurred. During Halloween, it was also often believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Druids build large bonfires to burn animals and crops as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. During the celebrations, the Celts often wore animals skins and heads as costumes during these celebrations. A popular thing to do as well was to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they would re-light their hearth fires to protect them from the cold winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman empire had conquered most of the Celtic province. In the four hundred years they ruled the Celtic territory, two of the Roman celebrations were combined with the celtic tradition of Samhain. The first day of the celebrations was Feralia, a day the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead. The second day was to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which may explain why “bobbing” for apples is a popular game during the holiday.

Did you know that you had to dance for your treat? Some Halloween experts trace Trick-or-Treating the the European practice of “mumming” in which someone was to dress up in a costume and go door to door doing a rehearsed dance. In exchange for treats of course.

Some animals shelters won’t allow the adoption of black cats on Halloween for fear they will be sacrificed by devil worshipers or rebellious teens. Its unclear where or not black cats are ACTUALLY sacrificed, but some shelters still prohibit it.