In celebration of today’s spooktastic holiday, we at SMSF would like to share a brief background on the origin of one of America’s most popular days of the year!
Halloween, or formerly known as All Hallows Eve, dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived approximately 2,000 years ago, celebrated their New Year on November 1. This day marked the end of the summer season and the beginning of the winter season – which was associated with darkness and misery. The day before the New Year, the Celts believed that the worlds of the living and dead merged and that the spirits of the dead would return to Earth. However, these otherworldly visits weren’t viewed as scary or evil, as it would be in modern times. Many believed that these spirits helped guide the Druids (Celtic Priests) into making harvest predictions for the next year. Since the Celts were very dependent on nature, these predictions were considered invaluable. Huge bonfires were lit as sacred displays of hope for good forecasts, and people dressed in costumes as a way to give praise to the spirits visiting that night.
Fast forward to 43 A.D., where the Romans have conquered most of the Celtic world. Samhain was combined with the Roman holidays Feralia and Pomona. Feralia was a day dedicated to commemorating the dead, and Pomona was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. This is where the bobbing for apples game originates from!
How did Halloween go from a day of honoring the dead to a day filled with costumes, candies, and Jack O’ Lanterns? As time passed and various and religious and ethnic beliefs merged in America – a holiday very distinct to the U.S. came to be. With the influx of immigrants during the second half of the 19th century, the celebration of Halloween became a nationally recognized holiday, celebrating community and neighborly get-togethers focusing on games and costumes – including trick or treating – thus becoming a staple for all Americans on Halloween.
One final fun-fact: Americans spend approximately $6 billion on candy alone every Halloween!
On behalf of everyone at SMSF, we wish you all a safe and happy Halloween! To learn more about the history of Halloween, please visit https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween