The origin of Halloween comes from the Celtic harvest festival called Samhain, which means ‘summer’s end.’ The festival took place the night before the Celtic New Year, November 1. The New Year was the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark season for the Celts; the day before, October 31, was a day that ghosts and goblins would roam the countryside.
The festival was a day for lost love ones to return home and for people to pay respect to those who had died. However, sometimes these ghosts could cause trouble so bonfires were lit to help keep out bad spirits and in more modern times dressing up for Halloween was used as another way to help keep away bad spirits.
When Christianity became the dominant religion, the Celtic festival was absorbed into All Souls’ Day on November 2 as a time to honour the spirits of the ancestors. This three-day festival, called Hallowmass, began on October 31 or All Hallows’ Eve. The festival not only commemorated the dead but over time the poor would go door-to-door dressing up and asking for food, eventually becoming the Halloween festivities we think of today.
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