The History of Halloween
Halloween began over 2,000 years ago in what is now known as Ireland. Back then, the Celtic peoples celebrated the New year on November 1st.
The day before, October 31st, was called Samhain, a day in which spirits roamed the earth freely.
The Celts believed the roaming spirits did harmful things like make them sick and damage their crops.
The Celts would dress in costumes and offer burnt sacrifices to their gods. The costumes were intended to fool and blend in with the spirits.
Eventually Ireland was conquered by Romans, and Samhain was combined with 2 Roman holidays. One of these is thought to be the origin of bobbing for apples.
By around the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III has established the Feast of All Saints (a festival honor all known and unknown saints) and Pope Gregory IV had moved it to November 1st. It was also called All Saints Day or All Hallow's Day.
The Celts still celebrated Samhain, but since it now occurred the day before All Hallow's Day, it became known as All Hallow's Eve. It didnt Take long for it be contracted into "Hallowe'en."
The Jack-o-Lantern, One of Halloween's main symbols, got it's name from a folk tale about a miserly farmer named Jack who was forced to wander the earth with a candle inside a turnip.
Original Jack-o-lantern's were made from turnips, but in the US, pumpkins are both abundant and easier to carve. Pumpkin carving was a harvest-time activity, but it came to be associated with Halloween.
Modern Halloween is a combination of all of these elements, but didn't gel as what is today until the mid 19th century. Now we trick-or-treat, wear costumes, carve pumpkins, bob for apples, and tell ghost stories, but few realize these are all elements from different traditions that collected and came together over Halloween's 2000 year history.