Pagan Roots in Halloween

By Tara Thompson

Samhain (s-ow-in) is a pagan holiday celebrated from October 31st to November 1st. It marks the end of the harvest year and the beginning of winter. It’s an almost 2,000-year-old annual tradition, celebrated by ancient Celtics who believed there was an invisible veil separating our world from the underworld and during Samhain, this veil would be temporarily lifted, allowing the living to communicate with the dead. 

Halloween retained many pagan practices and was adopted in America in the 19th century as Irish immigrants brought past traditions to their new home. One of these traditions being trick-or-treating. Originally referred to as mumming, where people would put on costumes, go door-to-door, and sing songs for the dead. The owners of these houses would often give cakes out to the children as payment, which is where the candy aspect comes from. 

In the 5th century, as Christianity gained popularity, leaders tried to stop Samhain from becoming a Christian holiday. They moved it to May, intending it be used for celebrating saints and martyrs but that didn’t last long. Soon after it was moved back to November 1st and renamed All Saints Day. Over the centuries, Christianity was unable to put an end to the pagan aspects of the holiday, and October 31st quickly became known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s