A Brief History of Halloween

A Brief History of Halloween

Known as All Hallows Eve, Halloween is originally a Pagan festival of the dead. Pagans believe that the veil or energy layer between the living and the dead is at its weakest on Halloween. As a result, people can communicate with their deceased loved ones where normally they wouldn’t be able. Pagans celebrated Halloween by building bonfires, and dancing around them, believing that their own natural energy from dancing and singing would encourage the spirits of their family and friends to come forward. A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween and Ancient Celtic People

Halloween was celebrated by the ancient Celtic people, who held that the start of their new year and the end of summer was around 1st November. On Halloween the Celts believed that the dead would rise from their graves and wander freely on earth. These dead people could mix with the living and cause trouble for their family and friends. To prevent the spirits from recognizing them, the Celts wore Halloween costumes and disguised themselves. They lit huge bonfires to try and rekindle the dying energy of the sun god during the winter.

Halloween and the Roman People

Ancient Romans also contributed to the Halloween tradition. They celebrated the festival of Pomona, goddess of orchards and the harvest, at this time of year. Again their celebrations included large fires, dancing and singing, and lavish Halloween costumes to honour Pomona. It is thanks to the Romans that toffee apples and nuts play a central role in the festival of Halloween in today’s society. The Roman festival was very much a time for happiness and frivolity, to celebrate life and new beginnings, and the fruitful harvest. A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween Gains a Spooky Reputation

Over time popular folklore began to associate Halloween with the appearance of fairies, witches, goblins and spirits, alongside the traditional belief in the dead rising. It became widely believed by superstitious people that any supernatural entity could make its presence known more strongly on Halloween. This of course originates from the belief of the dead rising from their graves, and is probably aided by ghost stories and the fascination with the supernatural that grew over time in popular culture.

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In England, Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, is celebrated on 5th November. As a result it is sometimes closely related to Halloween celebrations. These include toffee apples and the central feature of the bonfire. People symbolically burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, the man who attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605. A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween has been an established American festival since the 1840s, when poverty stricken Irish people emigrated to the United States. Over time Halloween has grown in popularity in the UK and parts of Europe, and is slowly becoming a more widely accepted public festival in many other cultures and countries.

Halloween for Wiccans and Pagans

For people of the Wicca and Pagan faith, Halloween, also known as Samhain, is one of their most important sacred days. Samhain is a time for fun, but also a time to honour the dead, to communicate with spirits and observe rituals. Wiccans and Pagans also believe that Halloween is a good time to make a fresh start and begin new projects. A Brief History of Halloween

Ultimately Halloween is a festival of celebration and fun. It is a time for people to come together with their friends and family, to wear fancy dress costumes, and play games, all in the spirit of the supernatural, something which humans seen increasingly more attracted to.


Theresa Cheung, The Element Encyclopaedia of the Psychic World, Harper Element Publishing.

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