Halloween began as the Celt’s way to celebrate the coming of the new year. The Celts then lived in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Northern France, and many areas of Eastern Europe. They believed this was a dark time when the dead returned to the earth. You will find below more information on what is the history of Halloween.
Celts occupied many parts of Eastern Europe, including Greece and Spain. They were a barbaric tribe, who passed down their traditions and origins by mouth. The first written recording of the Celts, appeared around “500 BCE,” according to historian and researcher Leigh T. Denault.
The Celts were a mysterious, barbaric group of people. They were strong fighters, lived in farming villages, and produced high-quality metal work. Like many cultures around them, the Celts worshipped Gods and Goddesses, and other deities, and believed the number three (the triad) to symbolize the “three layered nature of the human soul”.
According to Richard Hooker’s online article, “European Middle Ages: The Celts“, “druids” played a large role in Celtic religious rituals. These “priests” were of a higher class (celts were known to have a class system), and well learned. Druids were responsible for carrying out the “religious rituals” of the Celts.
There were three specialties “within ancient Druidism”. The “Bards” kept traditions and were trained in “language, grammar, stories”, and a variety of information for 12 years. The “Ovates,” were the healers. The “Druids” and “Druidesses” were well educated, extremely talented, mostly male, and acted as “priests”.
Druids considered the night of October 31st to be the beginning of a new year, “Samhain, the end of warm season”. It was during this time that the spirits of the dead were to Rome the earth, and bonfires were lit to protect the living from the dead.
The holiday of Halloween is said to also be named from the “Druid Lord of Death, Saman”. Most widely known today as, “The Grim Reaper”.
The ancient Celts believed the sun was “loosing strength” due to the coming of the cooler temperatures, and that the “Lord of Death” was over powering the sun god. Since the evil god was overpowering the sun, it is believed he would release the wicked souls back to earth on the night of Halloween. Because of this, sacrifices were made, fires were lit, and Druids would carry out the rituals to appease their “Lord of Death”.
JULIUS CEASAR’S VIEW OF THE CELTIC PEOPLE
Eventually, the Roman empire began to infiltrate into the Celtic culture, and they realized how superstitious a people the Celts were. Julius Ceasar wrote an account of the Druid priests, saying, “All Gallic nations are given too much superstition”. He goes on to explain the sacrifices made by the people in order to appease the Gods.
Even so, the Romans celebrated a festival named “Feralia”, which intended to give rest and peace to the departed.” After conquering a large amount of Celtic territory, these two festivals started to mix together, to give the world the modern day version of “Halloween”.
CHRISTIANITY ENTERS HALLOWEEN
“In the 7th Century”, a new holiday was decided upon to replace both the Celtic and Roman festivals, “All Saints Day”; however, The Catholic Church eventually decided to designate October 31st as “All Soul’s Day”. A day to remember the dead and pray for the ones who are no longer on earth by offering blessings. November 1st was then named, “All Saints Day”, a day to honour those who sacrificed for the church or who were considered saints.
Unfortunately, the church was never able to totally abolish the pagan practices of Halloween, and the two were mixed.
Now, the holiday of Halloween is celebrated as a night to enjoy frights, drinks, crafts, and treats, while dressing up as a favourite character of some sort. Many of the things enjoyed by adults and children today originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Roman festival of Feralia.