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How did we start celebrating Halloween

Sacred bonfire

Initially started by the Celts over 2,000 years ago, what we now consider to be Halloween and how we celebrate is different to how it was done then. The Celts based their year around the growing of food and thus celebrated the end of the year as the end of the harvest season. The last day of the harvest season was on 31st October, and so this was their new year’s eve and the day they celebrated the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

The celebration was called Samhain named after the Lord of Darkness and was presided over by Druid priests.

For Samhain, Druid priests build bonfires and Celts burnt crops and animals as sacrifices to the gods in the hope they would spare their lives during the long winter months ahead. The transition from Summer to Winter brought the fear of death to many and during the sacrificial burning of crops and animals on the sacred bonfires, the Celts wore animal heads and skins in the hope that any spirits watching would not know their true identity and therefore would not be able to take them during Winter.

Samhain was practiced for centuries by the Celts, however over time the Celtic celebrations were merged with other pagan rituals also held on the same day and as the influence of Christianity grew, the pagan ritual started to merge with the Christian celebration that occurred around the same time as it so happened that 1st November was the Christian Feast of All Saints day, a day to honour saints and matyrs, making 31st October All Saints Eve.

As the 2 celebrations were held at the same time, and Christians wanted to grow their numbers by converting as many people as possible, the 2 celebrations were merged and renamed to All Hallows eve, which after a few iterations became known as Halloween.

Therefore, Halloween came about with the merging of 2 celebrations and belief systems.

Today, Halloween is thought of as an American tradition, where people go around knocking on strangers’ doors asking for sweets, which are all high in sugar and would require the use of a protein supplement which you can read about at and a few gym sessions to burn all the calories eaten on the day.

In actual fact, Halloween has just been commercialised by the US, but has been around in one form or another – the pagans saw it as a day to sacrifice a few things so they do not die, while the Christians saw it as a day to celebrate the saints and martyrs who sacrificed themselves for us so they could live – ironically, the tradition of celebrating Halloween is growing around the world as retailers cash in on the day by selling costumes, sweats, decorations and party supplies.

So next time someone says, celebrating Halloween is something created by retailers to boost their profit line, you can give them the fact about Halloween initially being a pagan ritual celebrated in parts of the UK and Northern France by the Celts at the end of the harvest season, then being merged with the celebration of All Saints eve, which is a Christian celebration, finally its celebrated in the US because the Celts took the tradition over there and kept the tradition going.

For bonus points you could also add the Celtic year was based on the harvest season, not on the Gregorian calendar we are used to using today.


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