Halloween dates back to the ancient Celts who lived 2,000 years ago. The Celts celebrated Halloween on November 1st. On October 31, the Celts believed that the dead came back and walked the Earth. They thought that the ghosts damaged their crops and caused other trouble, but also made it easier for their priests to predict the future. The Celts relied on these predictions to get them through the cold, long winter.
To celebrate Halloween, the priests made large and sacred bonfires for people to gather around and burn animals and crops as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. The Celts would wear their own versions of Halloween Costumes, usually animal skins and heads, and have fun telling each other’s fortunes. When the evening was over, fire from the bonfire lit everyone’s fireplaces at home to protect them during the harsh winter.
Once the Roman Empire conquered most of the Celtic land, Halloween became the traditional Celtic celebration combined with the Roman day of Feralia and Pomona. Feralia was in late October and was a day for honoring the dead. Pomona was the Roman goddess of the trees and of the fruit and was honored by a festival the day after the day of Feralia. It is suggested that the tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween came from Pomona because her symbol was an apple.
In 609 AD, Pope Boniface IV established the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day. Pope Gregory III later made the festival include saints too and moved it to November 1st. All Souls’ Day to honor the dead was later created and celebrated on November 2nd. All Souls Day was celebrated with bonfire, costumes, and parades. Costumes were saints, devils, and angels. The day was also called All-hallows and the night before it was called All-hallows Eve. All-hallows Eve eventually came to be known as Halloween and the celebrations evolved to become how we celebrate today.
As you can see, Halloween is a holiday with deep roots and was a very different holiday than it is now. Costumes were much simpler than they are today and served different purposes. It was more ceremonial. Today, it is just a holiday for dressing up, decorating our homes, going to Haunted Houses, watching scary movies, and eating lots of candy. The traditions of our ancestors have mostly been abandoned over the years for things more modern and suiting for the generation.