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History of Halloween

Just how did the Halloween holiday become such a fun occasion for kids and adults alike? To trace its history, you have to go back nearly 2,000 years to its origin.

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that now comprises Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. To ward off these evil spirits, Celts donned the heads and skin of animals while Druid priests burned sacrifices in a more Christian observation of the day.

After the Romans conquered the majority of Celtic territory by 43 A.D., two festivals of Roman origin were incorporated with the traditional Samhain celebration. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

Around the eighth century, the Christian church made November 1 All Saints' Day to honor all of the saints that didn't have a special day of their own. Over the years, these festivals combined. The mass held on All Saints' Day was called All Hallowmas (the mass of all Hallows - saintly people). The night before was known as All Hallows Eve. Eventually this name became Halloween.

Halloween Celebrated October 31

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