Besides Christmas, Halloween is easily every kid's favorite time of the year – and why wouldn't it be? Free candy and scary costumes go a long way. A lot of kids and even adults don't know where Halloween stems from though. They are blindsided by the horror movies, orange and black decorations and keeping themselves from eating all of the candy before it's actually time to hand it out. Keep reading this article if you want to bring a little historical knowledge to the party this year with your favorite candy.
Halloween actually dates back to the ancient Celtic festival in Samhain (now known as Ireland). The Celts who lived in this area 2,000 years ago along with the people in the United Kingdom and France all celebrated their new year on November 1. They had this festival on October 31 because it signaled the end of the summer harvest and the start of the cold, dark winter which was often associated with human death. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year the veil between the living world and dead world was at its thinnest, and the ghosts could actually return back to the world of the living.
Not only could these ghosts cause mayhem and damage crops, but the Celts also believed that the Druids (ancient Celtic priests) could make predictions about the future when these otherworldly presences were in our world. For a people who were completely dependant on the volatile natural world, they took these prophecies very seriously and were a source of comfort and direction through the long dark winters they faced.
The Druids built huge sacred bonfires where the people would gather to burn their crop and animals as a sacrifice to the Celtic deities. During this demonstration, the Celts would typically wear costumes consisting of animal heads and pelts attempting to tell each other's fortune. When the celebration was done, the Celts would re-light their hearth fires with the fire from the sacred bonfire to help protect them for the upcoming winter.
We have come a long way as a society, from dancing around a huge sacred bonfire in animal heads, to just casually handing out candy to our neighbor's children when they come up to your door dressed as a Transformer. No matter how you celebrate Halloween, stay safe and keep the good candy for yourself.