Why Do We Celebrate Halloween Anyway?

Happy Halloween! Today is all about spooks and sweets and lots and lots of fun!

More Halloween Clip Art Illustrations at http://www.ClipartOf.com
Source: ClipartOf.com

Halloween originates from a Celtic holiday called Samhain, one of the four major holidays for the ancient Celtic culture. Samhain, celebrated November 1st, marked the start of their new year, and it was believed that those that had gone on could come back to earth to visit. You know, as in ghosts? These ghosts would give guidance on how to survive the winter.

Once the Romans invaded and Christianity spread, the Catholic Church decided that the best way to strip the Celts of their culture would be to Christianize their holidays, thus Samhain became All Saints Day (November 1) and October 31st became All Hallows Eve.

More Halloween Clip Art Illustrations at http://www.ClipartOf.com
Source: ClipartOf.com

But culture dies hard, and many of the ways we celebrate Halloween, such as parades, dressing up, bonfires, and apple-bobbing, are all ways the ancient Celts celebrated Samhain. So does trick-or-treating, which evolved from the practice of leaving food at one’s front door for spirits and fairies so they wouldn’t come inside and create havoc.

Irish immigrants to the US brought the idea of vandalism, or tricks. In the 1950s, in an attempt to curb that practice, the idea of family-friendly trick-or-treating took shape.

Source: clipartpanda.com

Today we spend more on Halloween than any other holiday save Christmas. While our current practice of adults dressing up in risque costumes and engaging in all sorts of debauchery, decorating our homes, and taking out dogs trick-or-treating may seem far different from the Celtic celebration signifying the transition from harvest to the long winter months, it’s not all that different, is it?

So while you celebrate today in whatever way you choose, stop for a moment and remind yourself that this holiday is still around is because of an ancient culture’s insistence their traditions not die. 


Holiday info from National Endowment for the Humanities website.

15 thoughts on “Why Do We Celebrate Halloween Anyway?

  1. I could sure use some tips from ghosts (or anyone) on how to survive the winter! Halloween is not my favorite holiday, but I do think it’s cool to be carrying on traditions from an ancient culture. It’s interesting to know that there is at least some similarities to that culture left.

  2. We celebrate Samhain here, the celtic rituals and customs are still common in our area. The trick&treat thingy came up some years ago and it’s only for the kiddies, no one (except me lol) has a decoration or a pumpkin outside :o)

  3. Christmas is also the Papistization of Celtic pagan winter rituals. Decorate a tree, then set fire to it as an offering to wood sprites. Burning the tree was replaced by candles, then bulbs, then LEDs.

  4. In Japan, celebrating Halloween is getting popular especially among young people and foreigners who live in Japan.
    I personally enjoy the day just decorating small ornaments around our front door but I didn’t know the original story about Halloween today. I thought it all about celebrating pumpkins….*blush*
    Thank you very much for today’s post that make me think what Halloween means for next year!

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