The Origin and Transformation of Halloween

Halloween is one of the most celebrated holidays in history. Halloween is celebrated in many different ways. Some cultures celebrate Halloween for a whole week. In this article, you will learn the origin of one of the most iconic and popular holidays in history.


The origins of Halloween goes back to the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain, a pagan celebration where the Celtic people celebrated the end of summer. People light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off spirits. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as the time to honor the saints. This day was called All Saints’ Day, but however the evening before All Saints’ Day was called All Hallows Eve then later Halloween. The Celtic People are the originators of some of the classic traditions of Halloween.

Carving Pumpkins

The Carving Pumpkins into jack o lantern traditions goes back to Ireland where they use turnips instead of pumpkins. The name for this tradition comes from a legend about a man named Stingy Jack who repeatedly trapped the Devil in order to assure that he wouldn’t go to Hell. But however when Stingy Jack died Heaven didn’t want his soul either, so he was forced to  return to Earth as a ghost for all of eternity. So people carved out pumpkins and lit them so they could ward away evil spirits including the ghost of Stingy Jack.


The Festival of Samhain marked the transition to the new year at the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, Celtic People believed that spirits walked the earth during the festival. Christian missionaries introduced All Souls’ Day on November 2 (the day after All Saints’ Day)


The idea of wearing scary costumes comes from the Celtic people. They thought that if they wear costumes that resemble evil spirits that the real spirits won’t terrorize them. 


There is no real origin of Trick-or-Treating. But however there are 3 solid theories of how the tradition of trick-or-treating came to be.

The first theory suggests that during The festival of Samhain, Celtic People would leave food out to appease the spirits that were traveling the Earth at night. Over time, People would dress for the spirits as they exchange food and drinks for them.

The second theory suggests that the candy boon stems from the Scottish practice of guising, which is a secular version of  “souling” (the practice of giving and receiving soul cakes on All Souls’ Day).

The final theory argues that modern American trick-or-treating stems from the “belsnickling”, a German-American Christmas tradition where children would dress in costumes and then call on their neighbors to see if the adults could guess the identities of the disguised.

The Black Cat Superstition:

The black cat superstition goes back to the Middle Ages, when the black felines were considered a symbol of The Devil. People also began to believe that the black cat to be a witch’s familiar- supernatural entities that would assist in their practice of dark- magic and black cats and spookiness have been linked ever since.

The Halloween Colors

Black and Orange, like the ghosts; the 1st theory for trick-or-treating; and costumes, the origin of the traditional halloween costume comes from the Celtic Festival of Samhain. According to the Celtics, Black represented the “death” of summer while Orange represented the beginning of the autumn harvest season.


Unlike most of the traditions, this is a recent development. Trunk or Treat originated in the late 1990s when church groups would fill their trunks with candy, and like trick or treating, children walked around and collected candy from them

As you see, most of the origin of the Halloween holiday comes from the Celtic Festival of Samhain. Sometime in the Middle Ages, or is still unknown.  


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