How Halloween Came To Be

The beginning of Halloween 

In the 18th century, ancient Celtics held an event every year in the fall called the festival of Samhain. The festival of Samhain was a pagan religious festival. It would be celebrated from October 31 to November 1st, to welcome in the harvest. The ancient Celts believed during Samhain that the barriers between the physical and spiritual would break down and spirits would interact with humans. During the festival there would be bonfires and people would communicate with the spirits. They also would carve the words jack-o-lantern into large turnips and potatoes from an old Irish tale.

The festival would happen after harvest was completed. The celebrants would join a Druid priest to light a community fire using a wheel. The wheel was considered to represent the sun and used along with prayers. Samhain was a mandatory celebration from the community. The community were required to show themselves to local kings. If they did not participate in the celebration, they believed that gods would punish the non-participants with illness or death.

In the 1840s, during the potato famine, the Irish were fleeing Ireland to America. By the 1900s, America was flooded with Irish and other European immigrants. The Irish immigrants would continue to celebrate their traditions and beliefs of the time of harvest in America. Eventually tradition turned into a national holiday known as Halloween world wide.

The Evolution of Halloween 

On the night of October 31, so stumped people celebrating Samhain went door to door, singing songs in exchange for food. During the celebration, the celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

They celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Samhain centered around lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to ward off spirits and fairies. People thought that they would encounter ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghost would mistake them for fellow spirits. They often played pranks to imitate evil spirits and used carved turnips as lanterns.

Places like France, Germany, Holland, Taiwan, Australia, Austria, and most Asian and African countries do not celebrate Halloween. But Ireland, Mexico, England, Italy, and Portugal are a few countries with Halloween time celebrations. For example, in Portugal, children participate in tradition known as “Pão-por-Deus(bread of God)on the morning of November 1. Kids go door to door (without costumes) and when the neighbors answer, they cry out “Pão-por-Deus” to receive bread, trinkets, or candy. And in Italy, costumed kids running through the piazzas, and posters for Halloween parties at local restaurants or clubs, can be seen in cities throughout Italy.

All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and earning treats.

Traditions of Halloween

How did pumpkins become a tradition of Halloween ? Well according to written by Cydney Grannan, in Ireland where Halloween originated from, a myth said that a man called stingy Jack tricked the devil to extend his lifetime, and once he died God didn’t let him into heaven for his trickery and the devil didn’t let him in hell for fooling him. He was forced to roam for eternity on earth. The Irish carved demonic faces on turnips to scare away Jack’s soul, from using his trickery on them.

Another story goes according to, that after not being allowed to heaven or hell the devil gave him a burning coal to light his way. Jack put it in a carved out turnip and wandered with it, which is how the name Jack O’ lantern or “Jack of the Lantern” came to be.

When the Irish immigrated to the U.S, they used pumpkins instead of turnips because they were native to the land in the U.S. They became associated with Halloween because like stated before Samhim is a celebration in Ireland and Britain, when the dead come to visit home, and began wearing disguises to hide themselves from the souls trying to go home. The tale of Jack became later incorporated with Halloween to carve pumpkins on the day of Halloween, to keep the dead from the living.

Going on to our next subject, how did ghosts, ghouls, witches, and skeletons come to relate to Halloween? Well it is said that Ghosts, and skeletons are a reminder of humans and what they used to be before they died. As said before, It also relates to Samhim when the dead return, it is what humans become after becoming deceased. The people would dress up as the deceased to keep them from taking them with them and not disturb the dead.

Now that we have covered the origins of ghosts and skeletons, what about witches and ghouls? According to, witches are said to gather two day in a year on Halloween and the eve of Halloween. They cast spells on unsuspecting victims on Halloween and turn them into monsters at night when they are the strongest.