The Ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain – Halloween
Halloween originated in Ireland over 1000 years ago. It started as an ancient Gaelic pagan festival called “Samhain,” meaning “end of summer.” It took place between October 31st and November 1st. It also marked the change of seasons. The Celts also celebrated this period to welcome the harvest. Samhain marked the time of year when the Celts brought in all the animals for the Winter, and the food that was harvested was used in great feasts and celebrations.
The Living and the Dead
The Celts believed that the connection to the worlds between the living and the dead was much easier to break on the eve of Halloween. Spirits, ghosts and faeries could easily crossover into our world. So for the Samhain festival, the Celts dressed up and lit bonfires to scare away spirits and ghosts. Offerings of food and drink were also left out to keep the spirits away.
Over time the Celts turned towards Christianity, but many of the traditions of Samhain remained and became the celebration we now call Halloween.
Trick or Treat
When Irish immigrants came to the United States in the mid-1800s, they brought their Halloween traditions. These traditions included dressing up in costumes, asking their neighbors for food or money, and playing pranks on people on the Eve of Halloween.
Americans started doing the same thing, which eventually turned into what we now know as trick-or-treating. Over time, the holiday gradually changed to fit with the American idea of Halloween – which is where the elaborate costumes, scary movies, free candy and bright orange pumpkins came in.
From us, at Moriarty’s, we hope you enjoyed finding out more about the origins of Samhain and we wish you a very spooky Halloween.