Over 2,000 years ago, the Celtics lived in the lands of modern day Ireland, United Kingdom and France. During the month of October, the Celtic tribes celebrated Samhain (sow-in) which represents the end of summer and the beginning of the harsh winter. On October 31st, the Celtics believed that mischievous spirits of the dead returned to earth. They believed during this time that it was possible for the living to predict the future. Crop and animal sacrifices were offered up to the Celtic deities, while tribe members dressed in costumes made of animal skins.
By A.D. 43 the Roman Empire had conquered the Celtic territory. The cultural blending of both Roman and Celtic traditions and celebrations began. Feralia a commemoration of the dead and Pomona the celebration of the Roman goddess of fruit and trees merged with Samhain.
Pomona's Roman symbol was an apple, which the modern day game of bobbing for apples may have originated from.
By A.D. 800, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1st as All Saints Day, a day to honor saints and martyrs. Many believe that this was the pope's attempt to replace Samhain with a Church sanctioned holiday. All Saints Day was later called All Hallows or All Hallowas, and over time Samhain was to be known as All-Hallows Eve.
Today, we call this day Halloween. In A.D. 1000 the Church declared November 2nd as All Soul's Day a time to honor the dead. This celebration was marked with bonfires, parades and dressing in costumes to represent saints, angels and demons, similar to Samhain over a thousand years earlier.
History (2008) The Real Story of Halloween. History.com. A & E Television Networks.
Retrieved on August 23, 2009 from: http://www.history.com/content/halloween
Bonfire Picture (2003) Janne Karaste. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved on August 23rd, 2009 from: