Halloween occurs on 31st October and is a night where we celebrate ghosts, witches and spooky goings on by trick or treating, dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, watching horror films and telling spooky stories. But why do we celebrate Halloween?
Halloween originates from 'All Hallow Even', the eve before All Hallows Day. It is the night before All Saints Day, a catholic festival which occurs on the 1st November. It is also the eve of the pagan Celtic festival Samhaim.
The Roman Catholic church made 1st November a church holiday to honour the saints. The night before was the eve of All Souls Day when it was customary to pray for the dead.
The pagan Celts believed that evil spirits occupied the long winter nights. They believed that the barriers between the spirit world and our world were at their weakest on this night. They would burn bonfires to ward the evil spirits away, whilst they feasted and danced around them.
Although All saints Day and Samhaim were widely celebrated in the past, Halloween is a recent tradition. It is first recorded in the 16th century, but gained increasingly in popularity in the 19th century. Today it has become a popular evening and a key date in our winter calendar.
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