• Dr. Herpy

The History of Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated every year on October 31st.  Halloweens origin dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.  The Celts who lived nearly 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st.  The new year marked the end of the summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time that was often associated with death. The 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 31st, the Celts celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. To commemorate this event, the Celts and Druids(Celtic priests) built huge sacred bonfires, where people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Druids.

The celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in New England because of the strict Protestant belief systems there.  Halloween was much more common in the southern colonies. An American version of Halloween began to emerge as the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and the American Indians meshed.  The first celebrations included “play parties”, which were public events held to celebrate the harvest. This eventually led to the telling of ghost stories, and mischief-making of all kinds. Nikki Nelson said, “One of her favorite things to do on Halloween is to pass out candy to little kids and see their costumes.”