Halloween: An Origin Story

All Hallows’ Eve

What we know now as Halloween originated with Samhain. A Celtic festival where the people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off the ghosts of the dead. Sound familiar yet?

After the Catholic church began to incorporate, and sometimes replace altogether, local traditions and Christian holidays, in the 8th century, Pope Gregory III moved the festival of martyrs and saints from May 13 to November 1. All Souls’ Day was placed on November 2 and included many of the same things that Samhain did as they were both festivals of the dead. They both had bonfires as well as people dressing up in costumes.

The point of the costume was to disguise yourself, not from people but from other things. You were not supposed to be out on what became All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween. If you had to be out you should disguise yourself so that the ghosts (or whatever happened to be out) wouldn’t know who you are.

Photo by Justus Menke on Pexels.com

This tradition, of course, has continued today. Children and many adults continue to dress as witches, demons, ghosts, and the fairy folk in hopes that they can survive the night of trick-or-treating and make it home a little bit more chocolate rich.


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