According to the ancient Celtic calendar, Halloween is their equivalent of New Year’s Eve. The Celtic new year began on November 1st. Ancient Celts believed that the world of the living and the world of the dead mingled on October 31st, allowing them to connect with the spirits of their ancestors. These ghostly visits helped Celtic priests make predictions about the future as their communities headed into the dead of winter.
So, even though Halloween originated with the Celts, back then it was known as Samhain (or samhuinn in Gaelic), which simply means summer’s end. Sam comes from the Old Irish word for summer and fuin comes from the Old Irish word for end. By the way, modern practitioners of Wicca still celebrate Samhain.
After several hundred centuries, a combination of politics and religion converted the November 1st Samhain celebrations to All Saints’ Day and the October 31st evening celebrations became known as All-hallows Eve or Allhallow-even.
Allhallow-even was shortened to Halloween in the 1740s by the Scottish, for which we thank them. Halloween came to North America in the late 1800s and by the 1930s it became the secular, community-centered holiday that many of us celebrate today.
- Halloween at History.com
- Why do we carve pumpkins on Halloween? (judythewriter.wordpress.com)
- History of Halloween (livescience.com)
- Merry Samhain & Happy Halloween (springwolf.net)