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History of Halloween

History of Halloween

Halloween history dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, approximately 2000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the UK, and northern France. They celebrated their new year on November 1st, a day marking the end of the summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. This was 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. Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Celtic priests (Druids) to make predictions about the future. These people where very dependent on their natural world, and these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

For Halloween history, Druids built sacred bonfires, and people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The night before it began was called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

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