Halloween: A History


Lexi Day, Reporter

Halloween–the last day of October, the time to dress up, a time to eat all the candy you want. It’s a time for creepy decorations, for yelling boo, and for walking around the neighborhood asking neighbors you never talk to for candy. What a wonderful time of year.

Halloween as we know it didn’t begin until the 19th century. Halloween actually began as a Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in). At these festivals, they would light bonfires, and wear costumes. They didn’t do this because they were crazy, they did it to ward off ghosts. This festival was celebrated on November 1st

If you’ve ever seen the movie Coco, you know that they celebrated the day when their loved ones who have passed on can come back and spend the night with their living family members. It was a day of preparation, and a day of excitement. Samhain was very similar to that. The Celts believed that the presence of these spirits made it so that the Druids (Celtic priests) could tell the future. The spirits also damaged crops, and generally caused trouble for the living.

The tradition of dressing up began with the Celts dressing up as animals or monsters. Again, they weren’t just crazies. They did this to keep other monsters from kidnapping them. Some of these monsters were headless men riding horses, the group called the “Faery Host” that would kidnap people, and Lady Gwyn, who dressed in white and chased individuals through the dark night. For some reason, a black pig would follow her around.

Some of our other modern traditions came from them, as well. Jack-o-lanterns back then were carved turnips that hung by strings. The tradition of putting candles and lights in Jack-o-lanterns was from the Celts putting coals in the turnips. Over time, the Irish tradition was changed to carving pumpkins.

There were many changes that happened through time to change the festival of Samhain into the Halloween we’re used to today. Halloween has a very cool, and very long and detailed, history. And, though it can be nice to know how Halloween came to be, sometimes it’s equally nice to just forget about the history, and dive into the traditions we love.