The origins of Halloween

The origins of HalloweenIt is Halloween tonight and people will be celebrating all across the world with trick-or-treating, an online psychic reading or a marathon of scary movies. As we get caught up in all these celebrations, we tend to forget how Halloween ever came about, so here is a short history of the celebration.

Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, marks the night before the Christian feast of All Hallows. All Hallows was a time for honouring the saints and praying for those who had recently departed this life. Groups of poor people, often children, would go from door-to-door in search of collecting ‘soul cakes’ which were baked for the feast and it is thought that trick-or-treating stems from this.

Aside from these Christian influences, the holiday is also believed to have pagan roots. The Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) celebrated the end of summer and marked the start of the ‘darker half’ of the year. Samhain was seen as a time when the door to the Otherworld was open enough for the souls of the dead and other mythical beings to come into our living world. Some of the spirits were good and some were bad so people would enact certain rituals, such as pumpkin carving, to protect themselves.

 

Image Credit: wwarby (flickr.com)

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