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)

Latest Galleries

American Heart Association GO RED Luncheon 2016
Northern California World Trade Center Annual International Business LuncheonThe Northern California World Trade Center Annual International Business Luncheon was on May 18th at the Hyatt Regency, Sacramento.
Sacramento Economic Forum presented by Genovese Burford & Brothers and Greater SacramentoThe Forum was on May 13th at the Sacramento Convention Center presented by Genovese Burford & Brothers and Greater Sacramento with Keynote speaker, John C. Williams, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
New 2016-17 CBS Primetime Shows
The Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Awards DinnerIn celebration of APR heritage month the Annual Awards dinner was on May 9th at the Sheraton Hotel, downtown Sacramento.
California Musical Theatre Broadway Gala FundraiserThe Broadway Gala on May 7th benefitted California Musical Theatre’s performing arts education and Music Circus productions. VSP was this year’s title sponsor and many other generous companies and individuals. City Councilman Steve Hansen was the Honorary Chair and Celestine and Scott Syphax were the chairs. Dennis Mangers emceed the event and entertainment was provided by Broadway stars Eric Kunze and Sharon Wilkins. The Broadway Gala Singers, a group of 20 local teens, also performed. Over 450 business and community leaders attended the Gala at the historic Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.
Sacramento Walk of Stars AnnouncementThe first Sacramento Walk of Stars honorees were announced today, May 9th in Sacramento L & 18th. Congratulations to Dr. Ernie Bodai, Gregory Kondos, Debbie Meyer and LeVar Burton for their national and international achievements and thank you for making Sacramento proud! #SacStar2016
Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento 20th anniversary “Broke Ball” and FundraiserThe Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento 20th anniversary theme “Denim & Diamonds” was on May 6th at the Lemon Hill location with a special tribute to Fred Teichert and the Teichert Foundtion.

More From CBS Sacramento

The Taz Show
LIVE: Monday through Friday from 6am – 6pm ET

Listen Live