The Origins of Halloween

Halloween is celebrated all over the world.  Halloween traditions include treat-or-treating, jack-o-lanterns and ghost stories.  But where do these traditions come from?  Here are a few Halloween facts from the folks at The History Channel. (credit: AP)
The Origins of Halloween Halloween is celebrated all over the world. Halloween traditions include treat-or-treating, jack-o-lanterns and ghost stories. But where do these traditions come from? Here are a few Halloween facts from the folks at The History Channel. (credit: AP)
Halloween is traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain.  Oct. 31 was their New Year’s eve where they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth that night.  They would hold bonfires, dress in costumes and tell fortunes. (credit: AP)
It All Started With The Irish (actually the Celts) Halloween is traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Oct. 31 was their New Year’s eve where they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth that night. They would hold bonfires, dress in costumes and tell fortunes. (credit: AP)
2,000 years later when the Romans conquered the Celts, they combined their own celebrations with Samhain.  Feralia commemorated the passing of the dead, and Pamona celebrated the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.  Her symbol was the apple and many believe this explains “bobbing” for apples at Halloween. (cedit: AP)
Bobbing For Apples 2,000 years later when the Romans conquered the Celts, they combined their own celebrations with Samhain. Feralia commemorated the passing of the dead, and Pamona celebrated the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Her symbol was the apple and many believe this explains “bobbing” for apples at Halloween. (cedit: AP)
Later, the Catholic Church attempted to incorporate older rites with church sanctioned holidays.  Pope Gregory moved All-Saints Day (or All-Hollows in Middle English) to November 1 to coincide with Samhain in Ireland.  The night before was called All-Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween. The church also named Nov. 2 as All-Souls Day to remember the dead. (credit: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
The Name 'Halloween' Later, the Catholic Church attempted to incorporate older rites with church sanctioned holidays. Pope Gregory moved All-Saints Day (or All-Hollows in Middle English) to November 1 to coincide with Samhain in Ireland. The night before was called All-Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween. The church also named Nov. 2 as All-Souls Day to remember the dead. (credit: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Trick-or-treating probably goes back to All-Soul’s day parades in England when the poor would beg for food in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.  Eventually, kids started “going a-souling” in their own neighborhoods and would be given money and food. (credit: AP)
Trick-or-Treating Trick-or-treating probably goes back to All-Soul’s day parades in England when the poor would beg for food in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. Eventually, kids started “going a-souling” in their own neighborhoods and would be given money and food. (credit: AP)
The History Channel says this dates back to when Celts and other Europeans thought ghosts came back to earth on Halloween.  They would dress up when they left their homes so the ghosts would mistake them as fellow spirits. (credit: AP)
Dressing Up in Costume The History Channel says this dates back to when Celts and other Europeans thought ghosts came back to earth on Halloween. They would dress up when they left their homes so the ghosts would mistake them as fellow spirits. (credit: AP)
This popular Halloween superstition probably goes back to when people thought witches transformed themselves into cats to avoid detection. (credit: AP)
Beware of Black Cat This popular Halloween superstition probably goes back to when people thought witches transformed themselves into cats to avoid detection. (credit: AP)
Jack-o-lanterns are traced to the Irish myth about “Stingy Jack” who tricked the Devil into sparing his soul.  When Jack died, God wouldn’t let him in heaven.  The Devil gave a Jack a burning coal to light his way.  Jack put the coal in a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since.  The Irish call him ‘Jack of the Lantern’ or ‘Jack O’Lantern’.  Irish began to carve turnips and put them in their windows to ward off Jack and other spirits.  When the Irish came to America, they switched to the native pumpkins. (credit: AP)
Jack-O-Lanterns Jack-o-lanterns are traced to the Irish myth about “Stingy Jack” who tricked the Devil into sparing his soul. When Jack died, God wouldn’t let him in heaven. The Devil gave a Jack a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal in a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. The Irish call him ‘Jack of the Lantern’ or ‘Jack O’Lantern’. Irish began to carve turnips and put them in their windows to ward off Jack and other spirits. When the Irish came to America, they switched to the native pumpkins. (credit: AP)
Halloween used to be a time for matchmaking.  In Ireland, a cook put a ring in mashed potatoes on Halloween hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.  Some women would eat a sweet treat made of walnuts and nutmeg before going to bed on Halloween hoping to dream about her future husband.  Another tradition said the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle. (credit: Newmakers/Getty Images)
Forgotten Traditions Finding A Husband Halloween used to be a time for matchmaking. In Ireland, a cook put a ring in mashed potatoes on Halloween hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. Some women would eat a sweet treat made of walnuts and nutmeg before going to bed on Halloween hoping to dream about her future husband. Another tradition said the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle. (credit: Newmakers/Getty Images)

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