The roots of Halloween goes into the Irish Celtic Past. It is interesting to see how a harvest festival of Ireland travelled across time, history, culture, tradition, and beliefs, and became something associated with spooky make-up and horrible costumes.
It was the Celtic harvest festival called Samhain in Ireland from where Halloween originated. Samhain was mostly popular as a fire festival, and there was a reason behind it. Samhain was celebrated on the evening on 31st October every year and continued throughout the next day.
The day was significant as the starting of the harvest season and hence, was celebrated as the beginning of a new year where all the people would shed off the old and embrace the new. Apart from this, the other popular belief about the festival of Samhain was that it was the time when people’s dead ancestors visited their near and dear ones in spirit.
The belief was confused and mixed over the time and later people came to believe that many malevolent spirits also cross the boundaries of the underworld and enter the human world. It was to keep these spirits away that large bonfires were ignited in the evening of 31st October and ceremonially extinguished to be later rekindled by Druids. It was to confuse these spirits that people used to dress spookily so that the spirits couldn’t recognize them. And the festival took the form of what we now call Halloween.
The word Sam means summer and fuin means end. Hence, Samhuin literally meant the end of the summer and that was how it was celebrated. Celts used to believe that a day starts with darkness and progresses into the light. Likewise, they too the dark wintery months to be the beginning of a year or a seasonal cycle, which would progress into the light seasons of spring, summer, and autumn.
The festival of Samhain was based on the pagan belief and hence it had nothing to do with Christianity.